KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 — The High Court rejected today a father and his adopted son’s attempt to apply for the child’s citizenship, alleging that they had not exhausted all attempts to prove the child is stateless.
Under Schedule 2 Part 2 of Article 14 (1) (b) section 1 (e) of the Federal Constitution, citizenship should be granted to “every person born within the Federation who is not born a citizen of any country…”
“There must be some effort made by applicants to prove that the child is a stateless child, not just in the affidavit… no attempts were made by applicants in form of affidavit to show the mother could not be traced, or not known for the court to exercise its discretion in granting the child’s citizenship, despite the information pertaining to the hospital made available,” Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad said in her judgement.
She also ordered the applicants to pay a cost of RM1,000 to “be fair” to the Attorney General’s Chambers as they have incurred expenses as well in filing their submissions.
“I am a mother too, I understand. That does not mean you cannot apply under Article 15 (a) of the Federal Constitution. You will have to try to apply again,” she said.
The applicants’ lawyer, Latheefa Koya said they will bring the case to the Court of Appeal “immediately”.
“We are very disappointed to say that if you look by the definition of the judge, no one will ever be considered stateless. For some reason, you expect the child to go and find out who the mother is and come back and tell the court… that seems to be the situation.
“So any child who is born out of wedlock, abandoned, adopted, will constantly face this problem of having to prove that he is not a citizen of any country when the documents are issued by JPN.
“The whole idea of Section 1 (e) of the Part 2 Schedule 2 is to protect someone like this child and unfortunately has repeatedly rejected these cases and we hope the Court of Appeal will fix this. So we will be appealing like every other case,” she told reporters outside the courtroom.
She explained that the boy, now 14 years old, was raised by Malaysian parents, one of whom is his father Than Siew Beng, also one of the applicants in this case, along with his adopted son.
According to Latheefa, the parents claimed they had paid for the biological mother’s Caesarean procedure and raised the baby, as the woman did not have the financial means to do so.
The birth certificate has the adoptive parents’ names as parents, but it also states that the child has no citizenship (Tiada kewarganegaraan).
Upon the application for the child’s MyKad at the age of 12, they were advised by the National Registration Department (NRD) to remove the adoptive parents’ names from the birth certificate and go through the official adoption process, which she said they have done.
“But our claim is not that the child be given citizenship because he was adopted. Our claim is this child has no status; he has no citizenship, no nationality.
“And who said that? Not us but the birth certificate. It says tiada warganegara (no citizeship) by JPN. So JPN already conferred the child as stateless,” Latheefa said, referring to NRD’s Malay acronym.
The lawyer added that it is a “very dangerous and very impossible burden on a child” to look for his biological mother.
Regardless, she said the applicants placed advertisements in the papers to locate the original parents once they had formalised the adoption and that was presented in the affidavit.
N. Surendran is also representing the father and son in the case, and the respondents are the Malaysian government, the Home Ministry and the director-general of NRD.
-BY MELISSA CHI, The Malaymail Online