Citizenship and Statelessness of a child

A child allowed to register to the National Registration Department (NRD) as a citizen of Malaysia if the child is already a citizen by law (Article 14(1)(a) Federal Constitution) but yet to be registered. Otherwise, the child is stateless. The meaning of stateless person is an individual who is not considered citizens or nationals under the operation of the laws of any country.

Under Article 15A Federal Constitution, Minister has given special power to register children who in such special circumstances in cases of hardship and cases where the Government thinks that it is in the interest of the children as a citizen. The basic conditions are that if the child was born within Malaysia, one of the parents must be a citizen or permanent resident, but if the child was born outside Malaysia, the father must be a citizen or permanent resident (Article 14(1)(b) Federal Constitution). Recently, our Home Ministry and Women, Family and Community Development Ministry are urged to use DNA as evidence for citizenship approval to overcome stateless children issues in Malaysia.


However, in some scenarios such as a child who was abandoned by their birth parents, a child whose biological mothers is a foreigner, child who was born before the registration of the parent’s marriage and a child who inherited the status of the stateless from their stateless parents, even later the child has been legally adopted by other parents, the child still may consider as a stateless person due to the original status doesn’t fall into Article 14(1) Federal Constitution. Most likely the applications of these groups of applicants will be rejected.

In such a situation, the aggrieved parents and the stateless child still have the last hope of their remedies to depend on the rights in challenging the NRD’s refusal to register the child as a citizen by way of judicial review. 

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