PETALING JAYA: Human rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) has criticised the government’s proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution on citizenship laws.
LFL director Zaid Malek described the amendments that were revealed in a meeting with civil society organisations (CSO) yesterday as “undoubtedly the worst since Merdeka”.
“If these amendments are passed, it will be a black day for Parliament and the nation,” he said in a statement.
Zaid said one of the proposed amendments involved removing Section 1(e) of the Second Schedule Part 2, which currently safeguards individuals from statelessness.
“This amendment will be the final nail in the coffin for the countless stateless persons in Malaysia, including children and those who are born and raised in the country for generations, but have been denied a blue MyKad due to lack of proper documentation,” he said.
Another amendment causing concern, Zaid said, pertains to Section 19B of the Second Schedule Part 3, which would strip foundlings, such as abandoned children or orphans, of their right to citizenship.
“Instead, foundlings will be at the mercy of the home ministry as to the granting of citizenship,” he said.
This proposal disregards a landmark ruling by the Federal Court in 2021 that granted citizenship to a teenager who was abandoned at birth by his unknown mother and adopted by a Malaysian couple, Zaid said.
As such, Zaid urged the people, CSOs, and the opposition to protest against the amendments.
“We (also) urge the government to withdraw from the brink and scrap these pernicious amendments,” he said.
Meanwhile, in a separate statement, 10 CSOs and nine activists who attended the meeting said that the proposed constitutional amendments will “worsen childhood statelessness.”
“The amendments have the effect to restrict or abrogate the fundamental liberties and rights of these children, forcing statelessness to spiral down for generations.”
Among the CSOs which signed the statement were Family Frontiers, Association of Women Lawyers and Yayasan Chow Kit.
In February, the Cabinet agreed to amend the Federal Constitution to enable automatic Malaysian citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers.
However, last month, the government filed an appeal to reverse a High Court order requiring the director-general of the national registration department (JPN) to issue a birth certificate to the five-year-old boy.