After Malaysia-born teen’s court victory, father seeks citizenship for half-Thai son

Lim Jien Hsian’s lawyer N. Surendran told the High Court here today that his client’s five-year-old son, Zu Yi, has the right to Malaysian citizenship under Section 1(e) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule. — File pic
Lim Jien Hsian’s lawyer N. Surendran told the High Court here today that his client’s five-year-old son, Zu Yi, has the right to Malaysian citizenship under Section 1(e) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule. — File pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — A businessman applied today for a judicial review of Putrajaya’s decision to deny Malaysian citizenship to his half-Thai son born here, purportedly for national security and immigration reasons.

Lim Jien Hsian’s lawyer N. Surendran told the High Court here today that his client’s five-year-old son, Zu Yi, has the right to Malaysian citizenship under Section 1(e) of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule that states that any child born in Malaysia, who is not the citizen of another country, automatically becomes a Malaysian citizen.

“This is a clear-cut, simple case,” Surendran said.

“The government has no room to exercise its discretion (on whether to grant citizenship),” he added.

Zu Yi was born at Tung Shin Hospital in Kuala Lumpur in 2010 and received a Malaysian birth certificate.

His mother is a Thai national who left the family when Zu Yi was six months old and has not been traceable since. She and Jien Hsian are not married.

Jien Hsian’s bid to claim citizenship for his son comes after the High Court here ordered Putrajaya last November to recognise a Malaysia-born teenager, Navin Moorthy, as a Malaysian citizen and to issue him a MyKad by the end of this year.

The High Court, however, granted the government last month a stay on its order pending Putrajaya’s appeal to the Court of Appeal in Navin’s case.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Maisarah Juhari, representing the National Registration Department (NRD), argued at the High Court here today that Section 17 of the Thai Nationality Act stipulates that any child born to a Thai parent anywhere in the world is considered a Thai citizen.

Hence, Zu Yi would not automatically receive Malaysian citizenship since the boy was already a Thai citizen from birth, the DPP said.

Surendran responded that the Malaysian courts are not in a position to consider Thai law.

According to Jien Hsian’s other lawyer Latheefa Koya, her client wants his son to be a citizen of Malaysia rather than Thailand, as there is no one to take care of him in the neighbouring country.

The 38-year-old businessman suffers from a severe heart condition and is not expected to have long to live. In the event of his demise, Jien Hsian’s mother will have to take care of Zu Yi, said Latheefa.

The lawyer also said Zu Yi cannot attend government school or go to government hospitals without citizenship.

Surendran told reporters that Zu Yi’s case was a pioneer case that could have an impact on thousands of children in the country of uncertain nationality.

Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad adjourned the case to consider these arguments.

“It is important to do research (on this) because there are so many thousands of children waiting for this decision,” she said.

Asmabi is set to deliver her decision on March 6.

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