“We must find common ground to solve citizenship issues,” Saifuddin tells NGOs and activists.


KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Minister believes that in order to resolve citizenship difficulties, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), activists, and the government must all work together.

Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail stated that the government chose a pragmatic approach to introducing the contentious proposed citizenship reforms.

“The spirit of the government on this matter is that while not all amendments will be passed, all proposed amendments should not be dropped entirely,” he told reporters at the Police Day Celebration at the Kuala Lumpur Police Training Centre on Monday (March 25).

The occasion was also attended by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Razarudin Hussain.

He stated that the activists should have the same spirit.

“The government does not have to give in to everything they ask for.

“There should be a give-and-take between us in order to find a middle ground to solve the citizenship issues,” he said, adding that the government should be given space to achieve its goal in the matter.

On Friday (March 22), the government agreed to withdraw planned controversial modifications to the Federal Constitution regarding citizenship.

The fate of foundlings or abandoned children, as well as stateless children, were the subject of two contentious proposed amendments.

Article 19B of the Second Schedule deals with the naturalisation of foundlings and abandoned children, but Section 1(e) Part II specifies that everyone born in the Federation who was not born a citizen of any other country was immediately a Malaysian citizen.

The government had previously sought to repeal these laws and require these children to apply for citizenship.

Other modifications that were praised by civil society included granting citizenship to children born to Malaysian mothers living overseas.

Currently, only individuals born abroad to Malaysian fathers are granted immediate citizenship.

A constitutional amendment could only be passed with a two-thirds majority.

Section 19B, Part III stated that foundlings were granted automatic citizenship by operation of law, giving them the benefit of the doubt as to the date and location of their birth, because the status of their biological parents was unknown and could not be confirmed.

Section 1(e), Part II specifies that citizenship was granted to vulnerable and affected people, including unmarried children, adopted and abandoned stateless children, and indigenous populations.

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