Make citizenship process less stringent, Lam Thye urges govt

KUALA LUMPUR: The citizenship application process should be simplified as some applicants may not have the means or capacity to meet all the requirements, says Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.

"The government, through the Home Ministry, has been proactive in handling issues of citizenship," the social activist said in a statement on Wednesday (March 29).

"For example, a special team travelled to the interior and border areas of Sarawak to process 948 citizenship applications out of the 150,000 received so far. The results are expected in three months.

"It is important that the remaining applications are also given priority."

In addition to easing the application process, Lee said more awareness programmes should be conducted about the requirements for citizenship as well as what applicants can do if they find these hard to meet.

"All National Registration Department branches throughout the country should revise and standardise their administrative systems to avoid inconsistencies.

"Children become stateless through no fault of their own. What they lack is only proper documentation. This can be resolved with the stroke of a pen," he said.

Lee also hoped that the high-level Cabinet committee set up under Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail will act fast to cut the "Gordian knot" and derive a final solution to this lingering issue.

Lee said any announcements by the minister or committee should be acted upon speedily by the department concerned.

He commended the Home Ministry for being quick to act on the Cabinet’s decision a month ago to amend the Federal Constitution in order for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers to automatically become citizens.

He said Saifuddin had told the Dewan Rakyat that the ministry would soon update MPs on the progress of this effort.

"The minister has been true to the promise he made last month that this matter would be among his top priorities.

"Already a total of 688 applications for citizenship of children in such a situation have been received. The minister has acknowledged that there could be more applications in due course.

"On the question of citizenship applications by stateless children or by those born out of wedlock, the ministry has also been proactive," Lee said.

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