Constitutional citizenship amendment will not be retrospective, says Saifuddin

PUTRAJAYA: The constitutional amendment to allow children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses to be granted an automatic right to citizenship will not be retrospective, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister said studies and consultations were made on the matter, and a special committee represented by several ministries was formed to explore the issue.

“Based on all the assessments, we propose to enforce this only for one generation. We do not want to open the floodgates,” said Saifuddin during a dialogue session with the media on Monday (March 25).

While the proposal was for the law not to be retrospective, Saifuddin pointed out that as of March 7, his ministry had made decisions on the 3,000-odd citizenship applications under this category received between 2013 and 2024.

He said that with the amendment, a Malaysian mother who wishes for her newborn children to be awarded Malaysian citizenship must register the child’s birth at the embassy or consulate within one year of the birth.

Despite the Opposition's concerns following the proposed amendment's tabling at the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, Saifuddin was confident that it would get the 148 votes required to pass the Bill.

Any amendment to the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority. The Dewan Rakyat has 222 members.

“Any concerns or differences in views and opinions can be raised during the debate,” he said.

The proposed amendment to the Federal Constitution on citizenship laws was tabled for the first reading on Monday.

The bill is scheduled for its second and third reading in this meeting.

However, the Opposition wants the amendment to be reviewed by the Parliamentary Special Select Committee.

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