Inconsistency in granting citizenship mystifying, says MP after footballer gets MyKad

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto says the agency which approved the footballer’s citizenship ‘in record time’ should apply the same procedures for the thousands born here and who have been waiting for decades to become a Malaysian.

PETALING JAYA: An MP has added to the criticism of the speed at which Johor Darul Ta’zim midfielder Liridon Krasniqi was naturalised and given citizenship, while thousands born here remain stateless.

In a statement, Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto said Krasniqi’s naturalisation could be unconstitutional as the Kosovo-born football player only came to Malaysia in April 2015.

She said Article 19(3) of the Federal Constitution states that a person must reside in Malaysia for an aggregate of not less than 10 years in the 12 years immediately preceding the date of the application for a naturalisation certificate.

“Obviously, the application for citizenship through naturalisation has been expedited by hidden hands, whatever the reason or urgency, for Krasniqi to call himself Malaysian.

“He is not the first to enjoy the privileges of being a darling of the establishment.

“Ragad Waleed Al-Kurdi’s citizenship came at whirlwind speed, a citizen in six years and she voted in the 13th general election and in the Sarawak state elections in 2016.”

Ragad, from Syria, is the wife of Sarawak governor Abdul Taib Mahmud.

Earlier today, two lawyers, Simon Siah, from Lawyers Kamek for Change, and Jeyaseelan Anthony, also criticised the speed at which Krasniqi was naturalised. Krasniqi can now play for Malaysia, if Fifa approves.

Kasthuri, who is part of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee for Gender Equality and Family Development, said the inconsistency in the speed and manner of citizenship was “mystifying and incomprehensible”.

Last year, she said the Welfare Department recorded 1,933 stateless children under the age of 18 in homes nationwide, comprising 1,098 boys and 835 girls.

“Normally, it is the responsibility of the caretaker or the operator of the home to apply for citizenship for these innocent children born in Malaysia.

“In the event these children are not awarded citizenship by the age of 18, they step out into the world as undocumented, stateless and status-less children. We have then to admit that we have failed these innocent, pure children.”

Kasthuri added that while the National Registration Department and home ministry were expediting the processing of over 30,000 citizenship applications, the elephant in the room was the selective awarding of citizenship to popular and prominent people.

“In spite of a government change after the 14th general election, dark hidden hands seem to prevail and monopolise the awarding of citizenship to certain people, bending rules and also contradicting the spirit of laws in the country that unfortunately everyone else is subject to.”

She urged the agency which processed and approved Krasniqi’s citizenship “in record time” to apply the same standard operating procedures for the thousands who have applied for citizenship, born here and have been waiting for decades to become a Malaysian.