Group moots Green Paper on proposed citizenship amendment law for public feedback

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — An umbrella group of civil society organisations that champion human rights wants the Cabinet to publicly disclose proposed revisions to citizenship laws which are currently under review.

The Malaysian Citizenship Rights Alliance (MCRA) said there were five proposed amendments that contain regressive measures that could disenfranchise certain segments of the population if implemented.

“Foundlings, abandoned children, and the children of Stateless Malaysian Permanent Residents would lose their right to citizenship.

“The constitutional protection against statelessness would also be removed, especially for elderly stateless persons, children born pre- marriage, adopted stateless children and other vulnerable individuals.

“Additionally, foreign spouses of Malaysian men are at risk of statelessness if their marriage ends within two years of acquiring Malaysian citizenship.

“Lastly, stateless children would have shorter timeframes to apply for citizenship through the citizenship-by-registration provision, exacerbating their challenges,” it said in a statement today.

At the same time, MCRA noted that one of the proposed amendments aims to grant citizenship to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers — currently available only to Malaysian fathers.

The group pointed out that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had also criticised the administrative hurdles that stateless children must overcome in seeking citizenship.

“However, the current proposed amendments would further exacerbate the difficulties they face,” it said.

MCRA urged the Cabinet to promptly disclose the draft Bill as a Green Paper and make it available for public consultation.

“A Green Paper would enable stakeholders to consider policy options to address proposed regressive amendments thoroughly, avoiding rushed decisions. “Without access to the precise wording, the public cannot fully assess the implications of the proposed changes that will affect their lives.

“Meaningful public engagement is vital in a democracy, ensuring all stakeholders can provide input on matters affecting their rights. Transparent and inclusive consultation processes demonstrate the government's commitment to accountability and respect for citizens' voices,” it said.

The MCRA include NGOs like Yayasan Chow Kit, Sabah-based Advocates for Non-discrimination and Access to Knowledge also known as ANAK, the Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur also known as Family Frontiers, the National Human Rights Society, Sarawak-based Lawyer Kamek, Voice of Children, and Persatuan Untuk Anak Kita also known as PUAKPayong.