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Rights group blasts home ministry over 'indifference' to citizenship bids after court ruling

Lawyers for Liberty says many applications by stateless children who are entitled to citizenship under the constitution have gone unheeded.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
2 minute read
Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek (left) speaks at a press conference in Petaling Jaya, March 16.
Lawyers for Liberty director Zaid Malek (left) speaks at a press conference in Petaling Jaya, March 16.

Rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) took the home ministry to task today for failing to adhere to the decision by the apex court on citizenship for abandoned children, saying applications by stateless children have gone unheeded by the National Registration Department (JPN). 

LFL director Zaid Malek said the government had been silent on many applications for citizenship despite the Federal Court ruling that abandoned, stateless children are entitled to become Malaysian citizens. 

"The reality here is, despite the clear wording in the federal case in 2021, family members and individuals considered abandoned still face problems obtaining citizenship because of the obstinate behaviour of JPN officers.

"They refuse to accept the Federal Court's decision on the matter," he said at a press conference in Petaling Jaya.

In 2021, the Federal Court granted Malaysian citizenship to a 17-year-old born at a local hospital who was adopted by a local couple. 

Zaid urged the government and the home ministry to resolve the issue of pending citizenship applications, accusing JPN of remaining indifferent even after the 2021 ruling. 

"Applications for citizenship are under the minister's jurisdiction," he said. 

"The minister is the one with the authority to approve the applications or not. 

"They have the right to be granted citizenship, so what is the issue here?"

He said that in some cases, JPN had told the applicants to go to court to get their own order. 

"When we ask for their SOPs, JPN says it is an internal matter. Officers direct individuals to take Form 15, which is an application for citizenship.

"We need to distinguish between applications and citizenship as a right," he added. 

"There is no need to apply, no need for approval from the home minister. They are entitled to citizenship by the Federal Constitution."