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KUALA LUMPUR, March 17 — The Kuala Lumpur High Court dismissed today a six-year-old boy’s lawsuit against Putrajaya for denying him citizenship, and ordered the minor to pay RM1,000 in costs.
The child’s lawyer Annou Xavier said that Judge Datuk Asmabi Mohamad made the decision to allow the government to strike out the plaintiff’s application for citizenship, although the boy was lawfully adopted under the Malaysian Adoption Act.
The defendant was represented by federal counsel Maisara Juhari.
“The court ruled that the Federal Constitution does not automatically grant one citizenship just because he or she is adopted,” Annou told reporters after emerging from Asmabi’s chambers.
The lawyer explained that the boy’s adoptive parents now have two options — to reapply for the child’s citizenship to the National Registration Department (NRD) or to appeal today’s decision at the Court of Appeal.
The former option, however, would take a “long, tedious process of about 12 months”, Annou said.
Following the recent victory of a teenager who succeeded in a similar bid to be recognised as a Malaysian, the six-year-old child through his adoptive father Yu Meng Queng, sued the director-general of the NRD, the Home Ministry and the federal government last year after authorities rejected his application twice to be recognised as a citizen 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.
He made a fresh application soon after, but this was also turned down in January 2013, again with no reason given.
Yu then initiated legal proceedings against the government in June last year.
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.
Last November, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ordered the Putrajaya 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.
Annou also represented Navin in the particular case.