KUALA LUMPUR: So far, 688 citizenship applications involving children born abroad to Malaysian mothers were received by the Home Ministry, the Dewan Rakyat was told.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said that, however, there are more cases out there which haven't made it through to the citizenship application process.
“There are 688 applications on my desk now. But there are more of those who did not submit their applications," said Saifuddin.
He added that this matter falls under Article 15(2) in the Constitution.
"When the Constitution was drafted in the 1950s, no one thought women in the country would travel, meet a partner and build a career abroad,” said Saifuddin during Question Time in Parliament on Thursday (March 23).
Earlier, Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong (BN-Ayer Hitam) asked if citizenship applications will be processed on a case-by-case basis when the Constitution is amended to enable children born abroad to Malaysian mothers to gain automatic citizenship.
In response, Saifuddin said there are several issues that needed to be ironed out, among them issues concerning the Constitution and dual citizenship.
Saifuddin said children born abroad to Malaysian mothers may have dual citizenship if the constitutional amendment was passed to allow automatic citizenship to the children.
“Because our laws do not recognise dual citizenship in Article 24 and 25 of the Constitution, we must find a balance before making a big decision,” said Saifuddin.
Saifuddin added that his ministry was making good progress on the proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution.
At the same time, Saifuddin said the ministry plans to table updates on the proposed constitutional amendment to all MPs through engagement sessions.
“On Feb 17, the technical committee and Cabinet committee was formed to hold discussions and we are expecting them to take six months.
“This means that in September, we will be able to table findings from the technical committee to the Cabinet committee, before it is brought to the Cabinet.
“If it is agreed, then it will be presented to the Conference of Rulers because constitutional amendments need the agreement of the Rulers. I’m confident that we are on schedule,” said Saifuddin.
At the same time, Saifuddin said that his ministry has received 150,000 citizenship applications so far, with most cases involving stateless children and children born out of wedlock.
Saifuddin also said the Home Ministry has targeted to process 948 citizenship applications involving communities living in the interiors and borders in Sarawak by June this year through the formation of a special team.
“The special team will travel to the interior and prepare their documents,” added Saifuddin.
The Cabinet committee that is chaired by Saifuddin includes Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reforms) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said.
Other ministers in the committee are Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abd Kadir and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Sabah, Sarawak affairs and Special Functions) Datuk Armizan Mohd Ali.
Last month, the Cabinet agreed to amend Section 1(1)(d) and Section 1(1)(e) of Part I in the Second Schedule, and Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) in Part II of the same Schedule.
The proposed amendments pertain to changing the term “father” in Parts I and II of the Second Schedule with the term of at least one parent to allow Malaysian mothers to get their parental rights according to the Constitution.