‘Children born in Malaysia – not just those born abroad to Malaysian mothers – should get citizenship’

The Kuala Lumpur High Court’s landmark ruling today, that the government must grant citizenship by operation of law to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers, has received tepid response from a children’s rights advocate.

James Nayagam, who has been advocating for children’s rights for close to 40 years – including those who are stateless – said while some may rejoice over the court’s decision, what is more important is for the government to respond correctly to protect the interests of a child.

In deciding on the case brought forward by the Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers) and six mothers today, High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir said the word ‘father’ in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution, must mean, and include, mothers.

Last year, the applicants filed a suit to declare Article 14(1)(b) and Sections 1(b) and 1(c) under the Second Schedule of the Constitution – invalid because they were discriminatory to women.

The group had claimed that the Federal Constitution only allowed a father to pass his citizenship to his children born overseas. A mother could not do so.

Nayagam, a former commissioner with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) said over the years, he had been informed by officers at the National Registration Department (NRD) that while the court could make a ruling on a child’s citizenship, the government was not obliged to comply.

“As far as citizenship here is concerned, when a marriage is registered, the citizenship of a child is that of his, or her father. And when the marriage is not registered, the child would have to take after the citizenship of the mother,” said Nayagam.

He cited the case of a stateless child back in 2015, which Suhakam had brought to the attention of the NRD.

“The child’s father is Malaysian, and his mother, a foreigner. He was not able to get citizenship as his parents’ marriage was not registered. Although I mentioned to the NRD that the court was of the position that this boy was entitled to citizenship, they told me otherwise.

“The higher-ups in the NRD said the court could make any decision they wanted, but it was up to the government (through the NRD) to bestow citizenship on whoever they felt deserved it.

The NRD, Nayagam said, made it clear that while they took note of the court’s decision, they were not bound by it.

“We need to look at today’s case in a broader perspective. It’s not just about granting citizenship to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers, but to also take note of those who were born in Malaysia but have not been able to get their citizenship for years,” said Nayagam, who is chairman of Suriana Welfare Society.

“Justice must not only be done, but it must also be seen to be done. While we are happy with the court’s position today, it must also apply to children born here, who remain stateless.”

Malaysia, Nayagam said, is a signatory of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, and he believes a child who is born in Malaysia, should receive Malaysian citizenship, regardless of the nationality of their parents, as it is in the best interests of the child.

“We cannot keep sending these children overseas as they were born and educated here. The government must respond favourably to decisions made by the court in the best interests of a child, and not adults,” he added.

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights today.

BUSINESSMAN CHARGED WITH ELDERLY SECURITY GUARD’S MURDER

Ahmad Noor Azhar Muhammad was charged with murder after the security guard he assaulted at a condominium in Ipoh last December died on Aug 27.

The charge was read to him before magistrate Noor Azreen Liana Darus this morning. No plea was recorded from the 33-year-old businessman, who was a guest at the condominium.

State deputy public prosecutor director Azalina Rashdi requested for a discharge not amounting to an acquittal for the initial charge under Section 335 of the Penal Code for causing grievous hurt on grave and sudden provocation.

Ahmad Noor was accused of murdering S. Thava Sagayam, 64, on Dec 29 last year, between 8am and 9.30am at Level 7 of the Majestic Tower.

It was previously reported that Thava Sagayam sustained head injuries after he was assaulted by the guest following an argument. He was found bleeding from his head and was rushed to the Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in a semi-conscious state. He died last month.

MEASAT SATELLITE SYSTEMS TO EXPAND BROADBAND COVERAGE BY YEAR’S-END

Measat Satellite Systems Sdn Bhd plans to expand its CONNECTme NOW service to cover 300,000 users at 3,000 sites nationwide by the end of this year.

CONNECTme NOW is a high-speed WiFi hotspot service, best positioned in rural areas.

To date, the service is available in 2,031 sites, which cover 200,000 users.

It is estimated between three and five per cent of the nation’s population live in areas with little or no internet connectivity. Measat aims to fill the broadband gap via its satellite service.

CONNECTme NOW offers download speeds of up to 30Mbps and upload speeds of up to 5Mbps with its existing network of MEASAT satellites. The satellite provider will launch its new satellite, Measat-3d, in 2022, which will provide better capacity and internet speeds for rural users.

GOVT PLANS TO LOWER PRICE OF COVID-19 SELF-TEST KITS 

The Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and the Health Ministry are looking at revising the price of Covid-19 Self-Test Kits by the end of this year.

This, according to Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, is to make the kits accessible to everyone.

The government recently set the retail ceiling price for the Covid-19 Antigen Rapid Test Kit at RM19.90 each, while the wholesale price was set at RM16 each, effective Sept 5.

Malaysia today recorded 19.307 new Covid-19 cases today.

MORE PRIVATE PRACTITIONERS, NGOs TO BE PART OF NATIONAL COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAMME

ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd aims to get more private practitioners and non-governmental health organisations involved in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme.

This, despite 70.5 per cent of the adult population in Malaysia, having been vaccinated.

ProtectHealth chief executive officer Datuk Dr Anas Alam Faizli said the involvement of private medical experts and NGOs had reduced the Health Ministry’s burden in the nationwide vaccination drive.

To date, 1,635 private general practitioners, 31 medical experts, and 122 private hospitals are involved in the national immunisation programme.

Those planning to help can sign up at www.protecthealth.com.my.

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