New Straits Times - - Letters -

TUN Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad al­leges that the For­est City Project, a joint ven­ture be­tween Coun­try Gar­den and a com­pany con­trolled by the Sul­tan of Jo­hor to build four ar­ti­fi­cial is­lands on re­claimed land at the south­ern tip of Malaysia, would lead to 700,000 Chi­nese from main­land China stay­ing in Jo­hor Baru, and even­tu­ally ac­quir­ing cit­i­zen­ship if they stay long enough. His view is in his blog Chedet un­der the head­ing “For­est City”.

Un­der the Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion, a per­son, whose fa­ther at the time of his birth is a cit­i­zen of the Fed­er­a­tion, is en­ti­tled to cit­i­zen­ship by op­er­a­tion of law. If the birth took place in Sin­ga­pore af­ter Sept 16, 1963, it would have suf­ficed if ei­ther of the par­ent was a cit­i­zen of the Fed­er­a­tion, oth­er­wise it must be the fa­ther only.

The place of birth is im­ma­te­rial; the child of a for­eigner who gives birth in Malaysia does not ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship by op­er­a­tion of law. Cit­i­zen­ship through op­er­a­tion of law can­not be re­voked un­less it was ob­tained by fraud or the per­son possesses dou­ble cit­i­zen­ship.

Cit­i­zen­ship may also be ac­quired by a for­eign woman whose hus­band is a cit­i­zen of the Fed­er­a­tion with the mar­riage reg­is­tered ac­cord­ing to Malaysian law. The prac­tice is af­ter two years of mar­riage, or af­ter she has given birth to a child, she may ap­ply.

A child born dur­ing mar­riage (as op­posed to chil­dren from the for­mer for­eign hus­band, if any) shall au­to­mat­i­cally ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship by op­er­a­tion of law. A for­eign man whose wife is a cit­i­zen of the Fed­er­a­tion does not ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship un­der the op­er­a­tion of law but may ap­ply for per­ma­nent res­i­dency in Malaysia.

A per­ma­nent res­i­dent of not less than 12 years may ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship by way of nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion. For a Malaysian who is mar­ried to a for­eign hus­band, it may be wise that she gives birth in Malaysia to en­able the child to ac­quire cit­i­zen­ship by op­er­a­tion of law.

The birth of the child out­side Malaysia would not en­ti­tle him or her to cit­i­zen­ship un­der the op­er­a­tion of law if at the time of the birth, the child’s fa­ther was not a cit­i­zen of the Fed­er­a­tion (with ex­cep­tion of Sin­ga­pore af­ter Malaysia Day). Un­der spe­cial cir­cum­stances, a child un­der 17 years old may be reg­is­tered as cit­i­zen.

The ac­qui­si­tion of cit­i­zen­ship by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion or reg­is­tra­tion is not a right, nor au­to­matic, and also en­tails the need to take the oath of al­le­giance to the Yang di Per­tuan Agong, hence con­di­tional at best. Ap­pli­cants must show good char­ac­ter and ad­e­quate knowl­edge of the Malay lan­guage. Malaysia also does not al­low dou­ble cit­i­zen­ship.

A per­son who ac­quires cit­i­zen­ship by nat­u­ral­i­sa­tion or by reg­is­tra­tion may be de­prived of their cit­i­zen­ship if they are dis­loyal or dis­af­fected to­wards the Fed­er­a­tion or dur­ing war, com­pro­mised his loy­alty by as­so­ci­at­ing with the en­emy, or with­out ap­proval from the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment served in any of­fice, post, em­ploy­ment un­der the gov­ern­ment of any coun­try in re­spect of which an oath, af­fir­ma­tion or dec­la­ra­tion of al­le­giance are re­quired, or has been away for more than five years not due for the ser­vice of the Fed­er­a­tion and had failed dur­ing the five year pe­riod to an­nu­ally reg­is­ter at the con­sulate of the Fed­er­a­tion his in­ten­tion to re­tain his cit­i­zen­ship.

Dr Ma­hathir’s con­cern as far as the ac­qui­si­tion of cit­i­zen­ship by for­eign­ers, there­fore, is sub­stan­tially un­founded. For­est City is also des­ig­nated as free tax area and own­er­ship of units is be­lieved to be free­hold not lease­hold. The Jo­hore­ans them­selves in Jo­hor Baru are by and large on lease­hold. How­ever, the un­reg­u­lated in­flux of for­eign­ers may cre­ate po­lit­i­cal, so­cial, eco­nomic, cul­tural and re­li­gious im­bal­ance.


Lec­turer, Ah­mad Ibrahim Kul­liyah of Laws, In­ter­na­tional Is­lamic Univer­sity Malaysia

Fruit sell­ers hope the gov­ern­ment will cut ex­ports to keep prices down.

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