Citizenship revision to be tabled

PETALING JAYA: The Bill on the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship will finally be tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the proposed amendments would be tabled for its first reading at 11am.

“After that, there will be a day where we will place the Bill on the desks (of MPs) and debates will take place,” he said during former health minister Khairy Jamaluddin’s podcast, Keluar Sekejap, yesterday.

The Bill was also listed as item number one in the Parliamentary Order Paper today.

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

“The Sarawak Premier was briefed on Saturday and the matter will also be communicated with the Sabah state leadership,” he added.

Earlier, he said there were around 59,000 citizenship applications involving the stateless, and of the number, about 35,000 had been processed by the government under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

He reiterated his commitment to resolving the remaining 14,000 citizenship applications under Article 15A for children born out of wedlock, adopted children, or abandoned children exceeding the infant age by Dec 31 of this year.

“I want to open up a new chapter after the proposed amendments to the citizenship law are mooted,” he said.

Saifuddin Nasution said that Home Ministry officials were dedicated and committed to seeing through the targets set for such policies.

“With extensive public debates 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 (standard operating procedure), and be transparent,” he added.

On Friday, the government decided to drop proposed controversial amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship.

The two proposed amendments, which had been hotly contested, involve the fate of foundlings or abandoned children and stateless children.

Article 19B of the Second Schedule refers to the naturalisation of foundlings and abandoned children while Section 1(e) Part II states that every person born within the Federation – who is not born a citizen of any country – is automatically a citizen of Malaysia.

The government had earlier sought to annul these provisions and make these children apply for citizenship.

“After various engagement sessions with party heads, whips, agencies, legal experts and other stakeholders, I have presented my input to the Cabinet.

“The Prime Minister has also held engagement sessions and we (the Cabinet) agreed with the suggestions.

“All proposed amendments were accepted except for 19B and 1(e). These (two articles) will remain as they are,” Saifuddin Nasution said at the Home Ministry in Putrajaya.

Among the other amendments, which have been welcomed by civil society, is giving citizenship to children born to Malaysian mothers abroad. Currently, only those born abroad to Malaysian fathers are given automatic citizenship.

A constitutional amendment can only be passed if there is a two-thirds majority.

Section 19B, Part III provides that foundlings are given automatic citizenship by operation of law, giving them the benefit of 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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