Press Statement

Home Minister must stop dilly dallying in resolving Rohana Abdullah & other stateless cases

18 January 2022

 We refer to the statement issued by the Home Minister Hamzah Zainudin yesterday where he stated that a thorough investigation and further documents  are necessary before Rohana Abdullah can be declared a citizen.

It is shocking that despite expressing concern for Rohana’s predicament, the Home Minister still prolongs her statelessness under the excuse of a lack of documents.

It is undisputed that Rohana was born in this country; has lived here all her life and has never even been to another country in her entire life. It is thus absurd for Hamzah Zainuddin to raise the issue of her father’s status which becomes irrelevant under the Constitution because she is a foundling and is currently stateless.

The fact is, Rohana is by right a citizen and should have not been rendered stateless by the Home Ministry to begin with.

The Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution unambiguously states that foundlings are citizens by operation of law; it is a constitutional right and not a discretion to be exercised at the whims of the Home Ministry. Further, any child like Rohana who is not born a citizen of any other country is automatically a citizen by virtue of para 1(e) of the 2nd Schedule.

The burden to disprove her claim citizenship is on the authorities, but victims like Rohana must not be left in legal limbo while a supposed ‘investigation’ is under way.

In this regard, the Home Minister must take cognisance of the strong rebuke delivered upon the Home Ministry by the Chief Justice in the recent Federal Court citizenship case in CCH & Anor v Pendaftar Besar bagi Kelahiran dan Kematian, Malaysia [2022] for this kind of dilly-dallying in stateless cases.

There is no need to prolong Rohana’s plight any longer. Doing so would mean that the government is actively going against the clear letter of the Constitution and the decision of the Federal Court on this matter.

We stress that if the Home Minister is  truly “touched” by Rohana’s case, he simply has to ensure that the administrative machinery of KDN and JPN follows the law.

The Home Minister can resolve Rohana’s case with the stroke of a pen. There is no need for this empty bombast of an investigation, which seems geared to cover KDN’s own failures which caused Rohana’s statelessness.

Thus, we urge the Home Minister to immediately ensure that Rohana is registered as a Malaysian citizen, as is her right. He must also revamp the SOPs in KDN and JPN so that similar cases are resolved speedily as well to avoid the reoccurrence of children and young persons being rendered stateless in the future.

Issued by:

Zaid Malek

Head Coordinator

Lawyers for Liberty