KUALA LUMPUR: Kasthuri Patto (PH-Batu Kawan) asked the government to state why foreign footballers can become naturalised citizens in less than five years but those born in Malaysia are continuously denied citizenship.
She said with nearly 2,000 stateless children as of September 2019, the government should get its priorities right by giving citizenships to locals who deserved them first.
“One can play football for five years and become a Malaysian citizen, while those born here are only given their blue IC when they are senior citizens,” she said in the Dewan Rakyat.
She gave the examples of Lee Tuck, a British national, and Sergio Aguero from Argentina, who play for Sri Pahang FC, quoting a Berita Harian report dated Jan 31.
It was reported that the club was in the process of getting these two foreigners naturalised, so they would qualify as local players, having already reached the quota for foreign players this season.
She said footballers Guilherme de Paula of Brazil and Yugoslavia-born Liridon Krasniqi had also received citizenship papers.
Under the Federal Constitution, one must have resided in Malaysia for at least 10 years before applying for citizenship.
Kasthuri raised the issue following deputy home minister Jonathan Yasin’s answer to a question on stateless people in Malaysia. Jonathan had said the national registration department (JPN) did not keep track of stateless people.
This led to a flurry of questions, with Wilfred Madius Tangau (PH-Tuaran), asking why the government was appealing against a court decision allowing a stateless man from Sabah to get his citizenship.
He also asked what was being done to address the issue of statelessness in Sabah, which, he said, was a huge problem.
Ramkarpal Singh Deo (PH-Bukit Gelugor) asked Jonathan to state the government’s stance on citizenships following recent court rulings favouring stateless folk born here.
Teo Nie Ching (PH-Kulai) said many abandoned children had been deprived of citizenship and should rightly be given their MyKads.
Jonathan, in response, said the government could not afford to give citizenship to “all and sundry”.
“If we were to give citizenship to everyone who applied, what would happen to Malaysia?” he asked.