Time to recognise legally adopted stateless children

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SIBU: All stateless children born, abandoned and subsequently legally adopted in Malaysia should now be recognised by the government as Malaysian citizens.

An opposition assemblywoman here who raised this matter pinned her hope on the precedent set by a recent Federal Court judgement that a stateless child born and found abandoned in Malaysia and subsequently adopted by Malaysian parents has been granted Malaysian citizenship.

With this judgment, Bukit Assek incumbent assemblywoman, Irene Chang, hoped it would resolve the issue faced by many, especially cases that have been pending for years at the Ministry of Home Affairs.

“It is imperative the government realises that such children are born and abandoned in the country through no fault of their own, and should not be punished for the decisions of their parents,” she stated in a press statement on Saturday (Nov 20).

Chang who is a lawyer by profession said with this case, the federal government should now abide by Section 19B of Part III of the Federal Constitution and unless the contrary is shown, should register all children found abandoned in Malaysia and subsequently adopted by Malaysian parents as a Malaysian citizen (Section 19B of Part III of the Federal Constitution states that a child found exposed shall be presumed to have been born to a mother who is a permanent resident).

She hoped this new development will finally resolve the many cases of statelessness among children in Malaysia and even in Sarawak.

At the same time, she urged the federal government to expedite all citizenship cases currently pending at the Ministry of Home Affairs, where some applicants have been waiting for years for an outcome to their citizenship application.

“It is unacceptable that after so many years the status of the cases would still be “Dalam Proses” (under process) whenever we followed them up with the ministry.

“I also urge the federal government that the whole Malaysian nationality laws in granting citizenship to children be carefully reviewed and reformed so as to reduce the number of stateless children in the country and to prevent a bleak future for such children in limbo,” Chang added.

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