Perak-born stateless child now a citizen

Perak-born stateless child now a citizen

KUALA LUMPUR: High Court judge Datuk Faizah Jamaludin ruled that a 13-year-old Perak born girl is a Malaysian citizen and “no longer illegitimate” at the time the Home Ministry rejected her citizenship application in 2012 nor when she filed for judicial review to challenge the citizenship refusal in 2016.

The government had previously refused to recognise the child as a citizen, as she was born to a Malaysian father and a Filipina mother before their marriage was registered and considered illegitimate.

The child cannot be named, though her parents and lawyer have consented to the publication of her picture in news reports.

Faizah noted the girl’s parents had registered their marriage, and that their child had been legitimised from their marriage registration date onwards.

“I find pursuant to Section 3 of the Legitimacy Act, the marriage of the second applicant’s parents rendered her legitimate,” the judge said, referring to the child as the second applicant.

“This is the decision of the court: An order of mandamus is granted to the respondents to issue a citizenship certificate and MyKad to the second applicant.

“It is hereby declared that the second applicant is a Malaysian citizen by operation of law under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, read together with Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution,” she added.

The judge did not order for damages or cost.

When met outside court, both the girl and her father Lew Yee Hong said they were “happy” with the decision.

The child, whose name has been withheld at the request of the lawyers, is now in Form One at a school in Sungai Siput, Perak.

The girl’s mother, who declined to be named, told reporters that she was very “happy” and overjoyed with the court’s ruling.

Having waited a long time for this moment, the mother said she nearly cried “tears of joy” when hearing that her child was recognised as a citizen and would receive an identification card.

The child was born in Perak in November 2006, with her parents later registering their marriage in the same state on January 31, 2008.

Lew and his daughter were forced to file the legal challenge after eight years of waiting for recognition of citizenship.

Lew then applied on February 20, 2008 for citizenship for his daughter but received no response at all, causing him to then apply for a second time on October 13, 2011 only to receive a rejection letter over a year later on December 17, 2012.

Lew then mounted a third attempt on September 9, 2013 but received a rejection almost three years later on August 5, 2016, leading him to file the lawsuit on October 28, 2016 together with his daughter against the latest rejection.

All previous citizenship applications were rejected by the Home Ministry with no reasons given.

The lawsuit by Lew and his daughter are against the Home Ministry secretary-general, the National Registration Department’s director-general and the government of Malaysia.

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