KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 — A minor adopted by a Malaysian couple is mounting a legal challenge against the federal government for refusing him citizenship, hot on the heels of the success of a teen who took Putrajaya to court over the same issue.
The six-year-old child, through his adopted father Yu Meng Queng, is suing the director-general of the National Registration Department (NRD), the Home Ministry and the federal government after authorities twice rejected his application to be recognised as a Malaysian with no reasons stated.
Yu, a lawyer, and his wife adopted the child — born to a Malaysian father and Indonesian mother — soon after his birth on May 19, 2008 and obtained an adoption order from the George Town Sessions Court in Penang on September 24 the same year.
The child was issued a birth certificate by the NRD after Yu was granted the legal adoption order but the boy was only give a “permanent resident” status.
Yu subsequently applied to the NRD in Penang to register his son as a citizen in October 2008, but the Home Ministry rejected the application two years later, stating only that the bid was unsuccessful.
The father made a fresh application soon after, but this was also turned down in January 2013, again with no reason given.
Yu then initiated the legal proceedings against the government in June this year.
The child’s lawyer, Annou Xavier, said that the respondents’ representative, federal counsel Maisara Juhari, has stated in their submissions that Yu’s application is premature as an appeal was not made to the home minister.
Putrajaya is also of the view that a legal adoption order does not mean an individual is automatically entitled to citizenship, said Xavier.
“But the child was lawfully adopted by an adoption order… Section 9 of Adoption Act 1952 states that an adopted child is the same as a child born to the adopter in lawful wedlock.
“So, the child is entitled to apply and get a Malaysian citizenship as his biological father and, now, the adopted father, are Malaysians since birth,” he told reporters.
The child is now seeking a declaration that he is a Malaysian citizen under Articles 14 and/or 15A of the Federal Constitution, and that he be issued a birth certificate and MyKad stating that he is a citizen.
Article 15A of the Federal Constitution provides special powers to the federal administration to register anyone under 21 years of age as a citizen.
Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad is expected to deliver her judgment on January 23 next year.
Last month, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the federal government to recognise 16-year-old Navin Moorthy as Malaysian citizen stating that the authorities had acted unfairly in rejecting the latter’s two earlier applications for citizenship, describing it as “unjust and too harsh”.
The court also stated that there is no provision under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution that expressly states that the marriage of a child’s parents must be officially registered to qualify for citizenship.
As there is no clear definition of the “special circumstances” outlined under Article 15A, Judge Datuk Hue Siew Kheng had said that the Federal Constitution should be interpreted to cover the various protections afforded to children by Malaysia’s ratification of the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Xavier also represented Navin in the particular case.