Mixed marriage kids face citizenship woes
Published on: Wednesday, January 31, 2018
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Penampang: Thousands of families of mixed marriages in Sabah are faced with complexity in obtaining citizenship status for their children, according to Sabah People's Basic Rights Association President Lee Pun Yee. He said in most cases, the problem arises when local residents marry foreigners without the status of a legal marriage.

The future of their children will then be affected due to their (parents) shortcomings and negligence.

"Over the past two years since 2015, we personally received 50 such cases from local residents who marry foreigners from Indonesia, China and the Philippines," he said here, Tuesday.

"Most of them legalise their marriage only after their children are born, but so far none have been able to get citizenship status for their children despite numerous applications to the relevant agency," he said.

Lee, who was accompanied by his Secretary Tan Cheng Hwee and committee member, Chen Hing Hiong, said the association had tried to assist by sending letters three times to the Home Affairs Ministry over the past two years to consider the plight of these families.

"We sent the letters to the ministry's secretary-general, we don't know if the minister has received the letters or just too busy to be bothered.

"The children are innocent but aren't able to enjoy the privilege of being Malaysians due to their non-citizenship status.

"We therefore hope the ministry will consider granting them citizenship as stipulated under Section 15A of the Federal Constitution which states that the Federal Government may, in such special circumstances as it thinks fit, cause any person under the age of 21 years to be registered as a citizen," he said.

He said they will be sending another letter to the ministry, this time directly to Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamid, who is also Home Minister, soon.

"I plan to go there by end of February and hope to receive a response from the ministry," he said.

He also said citizenship status should be granted to the children, citing 92 similar cases in Sarawak where citizenship under Section 15A of the Federal Constitution was granted.

"Why they can do it for Sarawak, but not for Sabahans?," he questioned.

He also apologised to the 50 families for not being able to help them soonest when they approached the association for help two years ago.

"Most of them are businessman, some working in companies, some are farmers, while their wives are housewives.

"This problem will not only affect their children, but the future of their children's kids and the generations to come if not addressed," he said.

The issue have also been raised in May last year, with National Registration Department Sabah Director Dato Ismail Ahmad quoting as advising and reminding locals that marriage without valid registration can bring complexity to their children in terms of citizenship status, education and employment opportunity. - Sherell Jeffrey


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