In court, lawyer argues stateless teen entitled to Malaysian citizenship under ‘Jus Soli’ principle

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Representing the teen, Datuk Cyrus Das argued extensively that the teen should be considered as a Malaysian citizen by operation of law as he was born in Malaysia, in line with the Federal Constitution’s Article 14(1)(b) and Part II Section 1(e) and Section 2(3) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule.  — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Representing the teen, Datuk Cyrus Das argued extensively that the teen should be considered as a Malaysian citizen by operation of law as he was born in Malaysia, in line with the Federal Constitution’s Article 14(1)(b) and Part II Section 1(e) and Section 2(3) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 24 — A stateless Malaysian-born teen who is seeking citizenship is entitled to said right under the principle of “jus soli” or birthright citizenship, regardless of his biological parent’s origins, his lawyer argued in the Federal Court here today.

The teen in question, a 17-year-old boy — known as C (to protect his identity) — is also legally adopted by a Malaysian couple in Penang.

Representing the teen, Datuk Cyrus Das argued extensively that the teen should be considered as a Malaysian citizen by operation of law as he was born in Malaysia, in line with the Federal Constitution’s Article 14(1)(b) and Part II Section 1(e) and Section 2(3) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule.

Cyrus’ arguments had centred on Part II Section 1(e), which stipulates that every person born within Malaysia who is “not born a citizen of any country” is a Malaysian citizen by operation of law.

Section 2(3), on the other hand, states that a person is to be treated as having at birth any citizenship which he acquires within one year of their birth.

The teen also does not need to show the identity or origins of his biological parents to be recognised as a Malaysian citizen, as both Section 1(e) and Section 2(3) do not stipulate the need to do so, Cyrus argued.

Representing the Registrar-General of Births and Deaths, the sole respondent of the lawsuit, senior federal counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, however, argued that Section 1(a) should be read together with Section 1(e).

Shamsul said that as the principles of “jus soli” and “jus sanguinis” — the determination of citizenship based on lineage where at least one parent is a citizen — apply in this case, the appellant must prove that he was born in the federation and at the time of his birth, was not a citizen of any other country by lineage of his parents.

Shamsul posited further that simply being born in this country does not constitute citizenship as there is still a need to determine the nationality of one’s parents to be considered eligible for Malaysian citizenship.

Shamsul then argued there is no way to determine the nationality of the teen’s biological parents, whose identities are unknown, as his adoptive parents had “concealed the facts” and provided “false statements” at the time of the teen’s birth and adoption in 2004.

Chief Justice Tun Tengku Maimun Tuan Mat, who chaired the five-member bench presiding over the hearing, questioned Shamsul on how the authorities were able to determine that false statements were made and why the teen was investigated.

Shamsul further explained that the investigation was prompted only after 12 years when the adoptive parents wanted to apply for a MyKad for the child and the authorities grew suspicious of the teen’s actual nationality as his features and looks, among other factors, did not match that of his adoptive parents.

However, Shamsul reiterated that there is no way of finding out the teen’s actual lineage and whether he was actually abandoned prior to his adoption as his adoptive parents did not provide the appropriate information during his adoption.

Representing the teen today along with Cyrus was Raymond Mah, Jasmine Wong and Eric Toh.

Also representing the Registrar-General of Births and Deaths along with Shamsul was Mazlifah Ayob.

Alongside Tengku Maimun, the other judges were Datuk Harmindar Singh Dhaliwal, Datuk Mary Lim Thiam Suan, Datuk Rhodzariah Bujang and Datuk Nallini Pathmanathan.

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