No child should be deprived of the fundamental right of citizenship on grounds of illegitimacy 

No child should be deprived of the fundamental right of citizenship on grounds of illegitimacy 

 

KUALA LUMPUR — Housing and Local Government Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin has expressed concern over the majority decision of the Federal Court on an illegitimate child being denied Malaysian citizenship despite having a Malaysian biological father.

In a statement, she said that “whilst we respect judgments made by the judicial arm in pursuance of their constitutional function, I am bound to disagree with this one.

“This case, which affirms a string of other decided cases, strongly offends our sense of justice and compassion. No child must be deprived of the fundamental right of citizenship on grounds of illegitimacy.

“I will raise this particular case with the Minister concerned or the cabinet in order to ensure that this child obtains citizenship by registration under Article 15(2).”

She added, “It is time to put an end to the damage wrought upon the innocent by the effect of the archaic section 17 of the Federal Constitution, which the majority judgment heavily relied upon.

“To that end, I am committed to the repeal or amendment of that section, and will raise this in government.”

On Friday, The Federal Court, in a majority 4-3 decision, dismissed an appeal by a 10-year-old boy who was born to a Malaysian father and a Filipina mother to get Malaysian citizenship.

Court of Appeal President Tan Sri Rohana Yusuf, who delivered the court’s majority decision, said the child did not meet the requisite criteria under the Federal Constitution to be declared a Malaysian citizen by operation of law.

The child was born in the Philippines in September 2010 and a few months later, he and his parents travelled to Malaysia where the couple registered their marriage in February 2011.

Justice Rohana said legitimisation of the child after birth precluded him from being a citizen by operation of law under Article 14 of the Federal Constitution.

-RP

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