Press Statement By Irene Chang:
I urge the state minister in charge of the special committee on citizenship in Sarawak to strongly advocate to the Home Ministry to refrain from appealing against the latest court decision which allowed the grant of citizenship to a child born out of wedlock to a Malaysian father and a foreigner mother in Malaysia. Proactive and positive actions need to be taken by the special committee to convey the support of the court decision rather than just waiting passively for a directive from the Home Ministry.
It has to be conveyed to the Home Ministry to take very serious note of the court decisions of the citizenship cases which have been brought to the courts lately. They have to remember that the judiciary is the 3rd branch of
the government which operates independently of the executive and legislative. The three branches of the government are given substantive power and each branch is expected to substantially check and balance the
exercise of the powers of the other two.
Having said that, it is gratifying that in the recent court decisions, the judiciary has taken the bold stand to take the less travelled road of granting citizenship to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses (albeit pending appeal by the government) and the latest case of granting citizenship to a child born out of wedlock to a Malaysian father with a foreigner partner in Malaysia.
These are landmark cases which indicate what the judiciary thinks should be the way forward to resolve the increasing cases of children statelessness in the country. And of utmost importance is that the decisions were based
on sound legal arguments and legislations tempered with a healthy dose of practical considerations to achieve justice for the faultless children.
The judiciary has obviously spoken through these cases. The question is –
is the executive under the Perikatan Nasional Government ready to follow the indicated direction? Or would it reject the way pointed out by the judiciary and continue to grapple blindly in the dark? And in the meantime, to clock up increasing numbers of stateless persons in the country without any compunction toward children who found themselves in these man-made wolf pits?
In Sarawak, we too have a sizable number of cases which fall into the 2 categories as the two cases taken to court, in particular, the case of a child born out of wedlock. If these cases are appealed against by the government, then many families in Sarawak would not be spared the anguish and distress of going through the tedious citizenship applications with little chance of success.
The court cases have set a precedent which should be followed unreservedly by the executive branch of the government. If the GPS government has just an iota of intention to reduce statelessness among our children, then they should, without any delay, convey firmly to the federal government of the wisdom to follow the lead of the judiciary.
I therefore urge the state minister to not waste this opportunity to do what is right by our children who are caught in the situation and made to pay for their parents’ mistake. Sarawak needs to speak up on behalf of our children and to do our part to reduce the numbers of children suffering from this predicament.