Bukit Assek assemblywoman seeks clarification on citizenship application

Irene Chang

SIBU, Dec 18: The Home Minister has been urged to clarify why there should be a window of one year for all citizenship applications when in law, there is no restriction in time except for those applications made under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution.

Bukit Assek assemblywoman, Irene Chang in her press statement on Friday that the recent announcement of a one-year window for registration of citizenship applications though had excited many people, it, however, gives the wrong impression that there is a restriction in time for all citizenship applications.

“This is not correct as there is only a restriction in time when the applications are made in respect of children under 21 years old under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution,” she said.

She added that the window of one year given implies that one year is given as an opportunity for the registration to be made before the opportunity is taken away again.

“In other words, the Home Ministry would not process any application made outside this one-year window. This is clearly not correct as the Home Ministry should process all applications whether they were made within or outside this one-year window,” she asserted.

If however by the statement, the Home Minister had intended that all applications made within this one year would be approved provided one has all the proper documentation, then he should clarify if he would approve all the pending applications with proper documentation
made prior to this one year window and which have been submitted to his ministry many years back.

“Or would these applicants have to apply afresh just to stay within this one-year window frame?” she inquired.

Chang said in the event that the Home Minister should intend that all applications made within this one year window should receive a nod of approval from him, then he should address and include in his action plan, ways to resolve the issues faced by the following classes of persons who have difficulty in producing personal documentations and who would, therefore, find it difficult if not impossible to apply within the one-year window frame.

These applicants included abandoned children who are still waiting for the completion of an investigation by JPN Bahagian Siasatan before the issuance of their birth certificates. There is generally no timeline for when these investigations should be completed.

However even after the investigations have been completed and the birth certificates have been issued, these children would still need to complete the adoption process before their adopted parents can apply for citizenship for them.

The whole process, she said may take up to more than one year and this class of stateless persons would therefore be most probably prevented from applying for citizenship within the one-year window frame.

The second type of citizenship applicants is children in rural Sarawak who find it impossible to produce the evidence in the form of documents to provide the crucial link to the country as the older generation stateless family members as well as the community leaders who might have witnessed their birth are no longer alive.

” A practical and workable action plan on how to overcome this problem on the lack of documentation should therefore be addressed and resolved for this class of people,” she said.

The other issue which the Ministry should look into involved the many stateless persons in the state who do not even have red IC, as the practice of issuing a red IC was stopped in 2012.

\”And because they don’t have a red IC, these minors who have turned 21 years old cannot apply under Article 19 of the Federal Constitution for citizenship under naturalisation as they need a red IC to determine if they satisfy one of the requirements for a successful citizenship by naturalisation application, that is to say, they have resided in Malaysia for at least 10 out of the 12 years in Malaysia,” she said.

Chang also wanted the ministry to address and resolve the green card holders (temporary residents) the issue as they currently have no avenue to apply for citizenship despite having lived in Malaysia since their birth.-DayakDaily