PUTRAJAYA: A Sabah-born man and a teenager from Perak can finally call themselves Malaysians, after battling several years in the courts to be recognised as citizens.
This comes after the Federal Court dismissed the national registration department’s (JPN) and home ministry’s bids to appeal against a lower court’s decision to grant citizenship to Keningau-born Wong Kueng Hui and a 16-year-old teenager born in Sungai Siput.
Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim said the authorities’ applications for leave to appeal lacked merit.
“Even if we grant (leave to appeal), it has little chance of success,” Abang Iskandar said.
Other judges who sat with him were justices Rhodzariah Bujang and Zabidin Diah.
The court made no order as to costs.
Wong initially won his bid for Malaysian citizenship in the High Court in 2019. The court held that Wong was a stateless person and ordered JPN to issue him a MyKad.
Wong’s father died when he was 10 years old, while his mother, a foreigner, died seven years later.
On Jan 19, the Court of Appeal in a majority ruling, upheld the High Court’s decision.
Wong was represented by lawyer Haijan Omar while Annou Xavier appeared for the teenager and her father.
Senior federal counsel Liew Horng Bing represented JPN and the home ministry.
The teenager, filed for judicial review through her father, Lew Yee Hong, in October 2016 to challenge the government’s decision rejecting her citizenship application, and seeking a court order to compel JPN to issue a MyKad to her.
Both the High Court and Court of Appeal ruled in her favour.
Meanwhile, the same court today also heard a 35-year-old woman’s leave application to set aside a lower court ruling declaring her not to be a Malaysian citizen.
Abang Iskandar allowed Azimah Hamzah’s bid to proceed with her appeal after hearing submissions from her lawyer, Gopal Sri Ram, and senior federal counsel Nik Noor Nik Kar, who appeared for JPN and the home ministry.
The court will hear Azimah’s appeal at a full hearing based on a question of law whether a child, whose refugee parents and siblings had subsequently acquired citizenship, is entitled to be registered as a Malaysian under Part II of the Second Schedule to the Federal Constitution.
Azimah’s parents became permanent residents here in November 1986 and obtained citizenship pursuant to Article 19 of the Federal Constitution in 2008.
Her eldest sister, who was born outside of Malaysia, obtained citizenship under special circumstances through Article 15A in 2008, while four younger siblings became Malaysians after the parents obtained citizenship.
Azimah, who also wants to be recognised as a Malaysian, contended that she was a stateless person, having no Cambodian citizenship. She has lived her entire life in Malaysia.
She filed a judicial review application in 2019 naming the JPN director-general, home ministry and the government seeking various court orders, including a declaration that she be recognised as a Malaysian citizen and for the issuance of a citizenship certificate and a MyKad.