Court throws out child’s appeal to acquire Malaysian citizenship

The boy’s lawyers say the courts can declare him a Malaysian citizen subject to him giving up his Philippines’ citizenship. (File pic)

PUTRAJAYA: The Court of Appeal today dismissed an appeal by an eight-year-old boy for Malaysian citizenship on the grounds that he is holding a Philippines’ passport.

Judge Abdul Rahman Sebli, who led a three-member bench, said the appellant was a Philippine citizen as he was in possession of the passport.

Abdul Rahman said Malaysia did not recognise dual citizenship.

Lawyer Shamini Thiruchelvam, who appeared for the boy, said she was disappointed with today’s ruling.

“We are likely to go to the Federal Court for an interpretation of getting citizenship in the case of our client under the Federal Constitution,” she said.

The boy was born to a Malaysian father and a Filipino mother in the Philippines but the parents married in Malaysia five months after he was born.

All the parties are currently living in Malaysia.

In 2011, the boy filed an application for citizenship pursuant to Article 15A of the constitution but the National Registration Department rejected it the following year without giving reasons.

This resulted in the father seeking legal remedy to obtain citizenship for his son through the High Court.

Shamini, who appeared with Francis Pereira and Shanmugam Ramasamy, said the submission advanced in the High Court was that the subsequent marriage of the boy’s parents legitimated his status and eligibility for citizenship.

However, the High Court dismissed the application on grounds that the boy was illegitimate at the time of birth and as his mother was a non-citizen, he lacked the qualification to acquire citizenship “by operation of law” under Article 14(1)(b).

Shamini said having been born outside the federation of Malaysia, the boy had to come into Malaysia legally to live with his parents. The boy naturally had to apply for a passport to travel legally to Malaysia.

“While it is agreed the boy cannot hold dual citizenship, we had submitted that the courts could declare him a Malaysian citizen subject to him giving up his Philippines’ citizenship,” she said.

Earlier today, three litigants withdrew their appeals before the Federal Court as Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had granted them citizenships using his ministerial discretion under Article 15A.

The fundamental question before the apex court was whether blood or lineage was a requirement under the Federal Constitution in determining the citizenship of a child.

Lawyer Raymond Mah said this legal question could only be answered if there were appeals coming from the Court of Appeal.

“In any event, there are many citizenship cases that have been filed in the High Court and which are likely to end in the Federal Court,” he said.