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May 28 decision for 10-year-old boy’s Malaysian citizenship appeal in Federal Court

PUTRAJAYA, May 21 — A seven-member bench of the Federal Court is set to deliver its verdict on May 28 in the appeal by a 10-year-old boy, who was born to a Malaysian father and a Filipino mother, to get Malaysian citizenship.

When contacted, Sharmini Thiruchelvam, who is one of the lawyers representing the child, and senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, representing the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general, the Home Ministry secretary-general and the government of Malaysia, confirmed the decision date.

The court proceedings to deliver the decision would be held via video conferencing through Zoom application.

The Federal Court bench, led by Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, had reserved its decision on February 4 this year after hearing submissions from parties in the appeal.

The other judges on the bench were Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf and Federal Court judges Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan, Datuk Vernon Ong Lam Kiat, Datuk Zabariah Mohd Yusof, Datuk Hasnah Mohammed Hashim and Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan.

The child’s father had applied to NRD for his son to be made a citizen of Malaysia but his application was rejected without any valid reason in 2012.

The boy, through his father, then filed an originating summons seeking for a declaration that the child is a Malaysian citizen. He was born in the Philippines but his parents married in Malaysia a few months after his birth.

He also sought for an order to compel the NRD director-general to issue a birth certificate and Malaysian identity card to the child.

On August 23, 2017, the High Court dismissed the originating summons and ruled that the child was not qualified to acquire citizenship by operation of law as at the time of his birth, the mother was not a citizen of the Federation of Malaysia.

His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed on February 14, 2019. He obtained leave to appeal to the Federal Court on October 15, 2019 on four legal questions for determination of the court.

In the appeal on February 4, lawyer Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, who appeared for the child, submitted that the only condition for a person born overseas to be entitled to Malaysian citizenship was that the father is a Malaysian at the time of the person’s birth.

Shamsul, however, argued that the boy was not entitled to get Malaysian citizenship under Section 1(b) in Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution due to the child’s illegitimate birth.

He said the subsequent legitimisation of the child through the parents’ marriage later does not change the child’s birth status as being born outside of marriage. — Bernama

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