After 17 years, stateless teen finally recognised as Malaysian

Navin Moorthy who received his citizenship certificate yesterday, shows his temporary IC document in Putrajaya, April 6, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Navin Moorthy who received his citizenship certificate yesterday, shows his temporary IC document in Putrajaya, April 6, 2016. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PUTRAJAYA, April 6 ― Teenager Navin Moorthy finally received official recognition of his citizenship today, 17 years after he was born in Malaysia.

Navin, who has about three months before his 18th birthday, yesterday received a Citizenship Certificate issued under Article 15 of the Federal Constitution.

“I'm more than happy I got it,” said the teenager who was born to a Malaysian father and Filipino mother.

Navin, who has been given a temporary identification document until he officially receives his identity card, said he was unable to say what he wanted to do first as a Malaysian citizen.

“There's a lot of things in my mind, I really can't say. Because I waited five years for this thing, finally I'm going to get it, so it's a big deal for me.

“I can't really tell what I'm going to do first because there's a lot of things on my mind,” he told reporters at the National Registration Department's headquarters here.

Navin's lawyer Annou Xavier said the home minister had signed a letter approving his client's citizenship application, adding that Navin is expected to receive his identity card either today or tomorrow.

“So from stateless, he has now become a boy who is in the big family of Malaysia,” Annou said.

Annou said the identity card is crucial for Malaysians, noting that the document is necessary for application for bank loans, driving licences and to go on flights.

Navin then chipped in to say: “I'm pretty much no one in this world, that's how I felt all this while.”

Malaysians typically apply for and receive their identity card at the age of 12.

Navin said he previously had a “rough” time and that the long years of fighting for his citizenship was a traumatic experience, but said he and his father are “happy that it has ended”.

On December 17, 2013, Navin had through his father Moorthy Ramiah Pillai filed a civil suit against the director-general of the National Registration Department (NRD), the Home Ministry that oversees the NRD, and the federal government over his citizenship status.

In his submissions, the teenager claimed that he was initially issued a birth certificate that listed him as a citizen when he was born on July 8, 1998, but found that his status was later changed to “Bukan Warganegara” or non-citizen.

He was also initially listed as a citizen in his Malaysian passport.

On November 25, 2014, Navin finally won an order from the Kuala Lumpur High Court that awarded him citizenship, with the government then ordered to recognise him as a Malaysian and grant him an IC.

The government subsequently appealed to the Court of Appeal, which last July 29 dismissed the appeal but made changes to the High Court order.

The Court of Appeal had ordered the government and the Home Minister to reconsider within six months the citizenship application of the teenager that they had previously rejected twice in 2010 and 2011.

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