We must find common ground to solve citizenship issues, Saifuddin tells NGOs, activists

KUALA LUMPUR: There must be common ground between non-governmental organisations (NGOs), activists and the Government to solve citizenship issues, says the Home Minister.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the Government took a realistic stand on tabling the controversial proposed amendments on citizenship.

"The spirit of the Government on this matter is that while not all amendments will be passed, all the proposed amendments should not be dropped completely either," he told reporters at the Police Day Celebration at the Kuala Lumpur Police Training Centre on Monday (March 25).

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Husain also attended the event.

He said the activists should also have the same spirit.

"Not all that they are demanding needs to be heeded by the Government.

"There should be a give and take between us in order to find a middle ground to solve the citizenship issues," he said, adding that the Government should be given room to reach its goal on the matter.

On Friday (March 22), the government decided to drop proposed controversial amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship.

The two proposed amendments, which had been hotly contested, involved 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 was not born a citizen of any country – was automatically a citizen of Malaysia.

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

Among the other amendments, which had been welcomed by civil society, was giving citizenship to children born to Malaysian mothers abroad.

Currently, only those born abroad to Malaysian fathers were given automatic citizenship.

A constitutional amendment could only be passed if there was a two-thirds majority.

Section 19B, Part III provided that foundlings were 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 was unknown and unable to be proven.

Section 1(e), Part II states that citizenship was 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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