PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya must withdraw its appeal over the High Court’s May 18 decision instructing the national registration department (JPN) to issue a birth certificate to a five-year-old boy to reflect the child’s Malaysian citizenship status.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) director Zaid Malek said the government’s move to appeal the decision was unjust and unnecessary, and questioned what it was trying to achieve.
“We remind the government that it has an international obligation under Article 3 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) to have a child’s best interests as its primary obligation in all its actions.
“By filing this appeal, the government is in direct violation of its international obligations under the CRC. It is also an immensely heartless act which victimises a mere child,” Zaid said in a statement.
The lawyer added the appeal by the government indicates that the Pakatan Harapan-led administration is not serious about addressing statelessness and continues to perpetuate the problem by prolonging it with this appeal, which can lead to the child being stateless for life.
Zaid recalled the statement made by home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in January that statelessness was a serious national issue and that a special committee would be established to address the problem.
He added that statelessness was not a trivial issue as it hampered an individual’s right to education, healthcare and overall livelihood.
“Thus, we strongly urge the government to withdraw its appeal against the decision of the High Court in this case and to respect the principles of law already laid down by the Federal Court.
“The laws on citizenship must be expanded and should not regress to the detriment of the children in our country, who are blameless in the circumstances of their birth.”
Yesterday, the government filed an appeal to reverse a High Court order requiring the director-general of JPN to issue a birth certificate to the five-year-old boy.
Lawyer Marcus Lee said his firm was served with a copy of the notice of appeal filed by the attorney-general’s chambers.
The boy was born a month before his Malaysian-born father and his Vietnamese mother were married. The birth certificate issued by JPN classified the boy as a non-citizen.
In his ruling, Justice Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh took cognisance of a DNA report, which was not disputed by JPN, confirming that the applicant was the boy’s biological father.
Wan Ahmad Farid also held that the boy had fulfilled all requirements of Article 14 of the Federal Constitution, read with paragraph 1(a) of Part II to its First Schedule, making him a citizen “by operation of law”.