Citizenship has always been a federal matter

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THE decision to speed up the process of tackling the stateless children issue in Sarawak, lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Minister for Women, Early Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said her ministry concurs on the need for speedy decision on application from stateless children in Sarawak.

“However, the decision on this matter lies with the Ministry of Home Affairs. Citizenship is covered under Part III of the Federal Constitution. It is a federal matter under Article 74, read together with Item No. 5 of Federal List of Ninth Schedule of Federal Constitution.”

“The citizenship of stateless children is not a matter discussed under the present Devolution of Power (DOP) exercise. This is because the issue of citizenship even with reference to the Inter-Governmental Committee (IGC) Report, Malaysia Agreement 1963 as well as the Federal Constitution, has always been agreed to be a federal matter,” she said.

Fatimah also explained that the birth of an individual in Malaysia does not guarantee a Malaysian citizenship.

In Malaysia, citizenship is determined based on marital status and citizenship status of biological parents of the individual at the time of birth, in accordance with the provisions of Part II of the Federal Constitution, Citizenship Rules 1964 [L. N82/1964] ad relevant legislation in force on marriage registration, adoption, child legality and immigration regulations.

She was replying to Datuk Ding Kuong Hiing (GPS-Meradong) on the Sarawak government’s plans to speed up the process of tackling the stateless children issue apart from proposed issuance of temporary documents, with the re-establishment of the Special Committee on Citizenship Status at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting here today.

Fatimah pointed out that for the births that occur before the registration of the parents’ marriage, the child’s citizenship is according to the mother’s citizenship in accordance with the legal provisions under Section 17, Part III, Second Schedule, Federal Constitution.

She added that the issue of children born in the country without documentation, will only arise because of parents not playing the role of responsible parents.

Among the measures taken by the Sarawak government now to address the issue of citizenship as raised, is through the application for Malaysian citizenship, either through registration or naturalisation in accordance with the conditions set out in the Federal Constitution.

The Sarawak Special Committee on Citizenship Status under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution, was established in 2016 to facilitate the consideration of citizenship applications received in Sarawak.

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