Citizenship amendments to be tabled in Parliament on March 25

PETALING JAYA: After much ado, the Bill on proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution concerning citizenship law will finally be tabled in Parliament for its first reading on Monday (March 25).

The Bill is listed as item No. 1 in the Parliamentary Order Paper for the day.

On Friday (March 22), Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said Putrajaya decided to drop two proposed amendments involving Article 19B and Section 1(e) Part 2 of Schedule 2 of the Constitution.

These amendments would have deprived foundlings and stateless children of automatic citizenship and would see them needing to register for it instead.

Saifuddin, who spoke during former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s podcast Keluar Sekejap, said the proposed amendments will be tabled for first reading at 11am on Monday.

“After that, there will be a day when we will place the bill on the desks (of MPs), and debates will occur.

“By now, I think the blue Bill would have been printed,” said Saifuddin.

According to Saifuddin, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had briefed His Majesty Sultan Ibrahim, King of Malaysia, about the Bill during a recent pre-cabinet meeting.

“The Sarawak Premier was briefed yesterday (March 23), and the matter will also be communicated with the Sabah state leadership,” added Saifudin.

Earlier, Saifuddin, who spoke at length on the issue, said there are around 59,000 citizenship applications, of which about 35,000 had been processed by the government.

According to Saifuddin, around 14,000 applications under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution remain. This includes children born out of wedlock, adopted children, and those originally found abandoned but whose age has exceeded that of a baby,

Article 15A of the Federal Constitution gives the government special powers to register persons under 21 as citizens.

Saifuddin pledged to resolve all 14,000 applications by Dec 31 this year.

“I want to start a new chapter after the proposed amendments to citizenship law were mooted. I am confident about that,” added Saifuddin.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin said he is confident that Home Ministry officials would see the targets he set for such policies through.

“With extensive public debate on human rights and government duties, I think whoever takes over (the home ministry) after me will be clear on citizenship issues, which is to close the trust deficit gap, have a clear SOP, and be transparent,” added Saifuddin.

Section 19B, Part III provides that foundlings are given automatic citizenship by operation of law, giving them the benefit of the doubt as to the date and place of their birth, as the status of their biological parents is unknown and unable to be proven.

Section 1(e), Part II states that citizenship is given to vulnerable and affected people, such as children born out of wedlock, adopted and abandoned stateless children, and indigenous communities.

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