Sunday, June 20, 2021

Zuraida to bring citizenship of illegitimate child to Cabinet

She says no child should be denied citizenship because he or she was born out of wedlock.

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Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin today said she would raise to the Cabinet the case of a boy whose application to be recognised as a Malaysian was turned down, adding that no child should be denied citizenship based on grounds of illegitimacy.

This follows the majority decision by a Federal Court bench on Friday that the 10-year-old who had a Malaysian father and Filipino mother did not meet the requisite criteria under the Federal Constitution to be declared a Malaysian citizen by operation of law.

The child was born in the Philippines in September 2010. A few months later, he and his parents travelled to Malaysia where the couple registered their marriage in February 2011.

Zuraida said the case, which underscored others related to the citizenship of illegitimate children before this, was at odds with the spirit of justice and humanity.

“No child should be denied citizenship because he is illegitimate,” she said in a statement.

“Although we respect the court’s decision, I must state my disagreement in this case.”

She said she would raise the matter with the minister responsible or the Cabinet in order to ensure that the child obtains citizenship through registration, in line with Article 15 (2) of the Federal Constitution.

“The time has come for us to end the damages inflicted on those who are without blame, following provisions that are out of date namely Article 17 of the constitution which was used by the judges in their majority decision,” she said, pledging her commitment to having the legislation abolished or amended.

In the court’s majority judgment, Court of Appeal president Rohana Yusuf said Section 17 of Part III of the Federal Constitution clearly states that illegitimate children are to follow the citizenship of the mother, which was presumed to have been obtained as the child had travelled with a passport issued by the Philippine government.

She also said legitimisation of the child after birth precluded him from being a citizen by operation of law under Article 14 of the Federal Constitution.

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