KUALA LUMPUR: The government will explain to its backbenchers the proposed constitutional amendments related to the granting of citizenship, says Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.
He said there is a limit to what can be done at this stage on the amendments that are to be tabled.
“Any constitutional amendment that affects the issue of citizenship has to be cleared with the Conference of Rulers,” Anwar told reporters after officiating MDX 2023 Grand Finale’s opening ceremony here today.
“The rulers have taken a certain position and we will have to, therefore, honour that. So, I think we’ll need to explain to the backbenchers.”
However, he did not disclose the position taken by the Conference of Rulers.
Anwar was asked to comment on the possibility of government backbenchers not voting in favour of the eight amendments regarding the provisions for granting citizenship under the Federal Constitution.
Besides obtaining the Conference of Rulers’ approval, any amendment to the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority in the Dewan Rakyat for it to be passed.
Yesterday, Malaysiakini reported that Ipoh Timor MP Howard Lee had suggested that several backbenchers may go against their party’s whip if a “decoupled” approach is not adopted for a set of proposed amendments.
Lee did not specify the proposed amendments he was referring to, but a source told Malaysiakini he was citing the proposed constitutional amendments to the granting of citizenship.
In his winding-up speech for the 2024 supply bill last Wednesday, home minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail defended the proposal to present eight amendments regarding the provisions for granting citizenship under the Federal Constitution.
Saifuddin said among the eight proposals was a particularly “sensitive” one, concerning the granting of citizenship to stateless children and foundlings – infants abandoned by their parents and later cared for by others.
One of the key amendments is directed towards altering the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(e), which grants Malaysian citizenship to every stateless person born in Malaysia by operation of law.
It seeks to also amend the Second Schedule, Part III, Section 19(b), which pertains to granting citizenship to abandoned children.
On another matter, Anwar said there was a need to avoid excessive politicisation of the Gaza situation, given the serious consequences such as loss of life and destruction of homes.
He said it was more important to work together to find solutions, seek assistance and donations, and engage with various countries, including non-Islamic ones, to address the issue.
“I hope this matter is understood. There might be a small minority, but those who are in the political scene have been deeply misleading. People are dying,” he said.