Malaysians with dual citizenship

MykadKUALA LUMPUR: One may have heard of Malaysians having dual citizenship. But is this true?

This may be the case with people in states bordering other countries, such as Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan and Perak in the peninsula, and Sabah and Sarawak.

Bernama put this question to several quarters, but none could confirm this.

National Registration Department Director-General Sulaiman Keling said Malaysia did not recognise dual citizenship among its citizens.

Any individual found to have dual citizenship would have to give up one.

He said that under Article 24(1) of the Federal Constitution, the Federal Government could renounce the Malaysian citizenship of an individual who had acquired the citizenship of any other country.

“Any citizen who acquires the citizenship of another country has to give up his or her Malaysian citizenship at the National Registration Department under Article 23 of the Federal Constitution,” he told Bernama.

According to the National Registration Department official website, those who had their Malaysian citizenship renounced or had rejected Malaysian citizenship would have to apply to the Federal Government under Article 18(2) of the Federal Constitution before they could be reinstated as Malaysian citizens.

In TUMPAT, Kelantan, national living heritage Siri Neng Buah, 63, said it could not be denied that there were Malaysians who had Thai citizenship because some people of the two countries had close family ties.

He said dual citizenship involving people in southern Thailand and Kelantan existed due to social and economic interests.

The Malaysian of Siamese descent said this happened when the identity card, known commonly as passport, was introduced by the British Government in the urban and strategic areas to check the communist movement in Malaya in 1948.

“The people of Thailand, who had family ties in Malaya, especially in Kelantan, also applied for the identity cards in Malaya to facilitate their movement.

“It was easy to obtain the card. One only had to go to a police station and report that one stayed in a particular village. The security authorities did not do any investigation.

“At that time, the birth certificate had not been introduced yet in Malaya,” he said when met by Bernama at his home in Kampung Kok Seraya.

Siri said Thailand, at that time, had introduced the identification system known as “Sammanu Krua”, whereby every individual was registered according to their respective families.

Not many Kelantanese registered themselves in Thailand because their names were not on the “Sammanu Krua” list, he said.

He said in time, after Malaya became independent in 1957 and then went on to become Malaysia, the citizenship and permanent resident status were introduced to facilitate the classification of residents.

Siri said in the 1970s, matters reached a height when then Kelantan Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Asri Muda asked Thailand to accord full autonomy to its Pattani, Narathiwat and Yala provinces and questioned the existence of Thailand’s consulate in Kota Bharu, which led to a demonstration in the Sungai Golok area.

“However, then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said the three southern Thailand provinces came under the jurisdiction of Thailand and that eased the tension,” he said.

Soon after that, Siri said, Thailand enticed its citizens with permanent resident status in Malaysia to return and live in Thailand.

“The Thailand Government opened several settlements in Sukhirin and Thai citizens returning to Thailand were given three hectares of land there.

Nevertheless, some people retained dual citizenship because they also had land and families in Kelantan.

“As far as I can remember, about 30,000 people had moved over to Thailand, but that number has dwindled because many have passed on.”