KUALA LUMPUR, June 4 — The Federal Court has deferred hearing five cases where five Malaysia-born persons want recognition as citizens, as the Attorney General’s Chambers (AGC) has asked for time to seek new instructions from the Home Ministry on how to proceed.
Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan, who represented the government and Ministry of Home Affairs, today told the court that the AGC was seeking an “adjournment for all matters pending fresh instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs”.
The Federal Court’s five-man panel, which was chaired by Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, granted an adjournment of the hearing.
The other judges on the panel today are Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim and Tan Sri Aziah Ali.
The hearing has now been fixed for July 23 and July 24.
Today was initially fixed for hearing of the five cases after it was rescheduled from May 30 and May 31, and also after several adjournments previously.
Earlier before the fixing of new hearing dates, lawyers for the stateless individuals today told the court that they were ready to go on with the hearing.
Datuk Cyrus Das, one of the lawyers for two of the cases, said his clients wanted the case to go on.
“I think to say that to take instructions from the Ministry of Home Affairs is too broad, they need to be more specific.
“In respect of some of the families, it’s a matter of some urgency because the children concerned are of age, 17 or 18 which they need a passport to travel abroad when the occasion arises,” he said, adding that they would also be at the age when they would need driving licences.
“Some of them do not know they are adopted, so there’s an internal family situation — how do you explain (that) you cannot do all these things?...We have the families’ instruction to proceed,” said Cyrus, who is representing the parents of two stateless Malaysia-born boys aged 16 and 17 this year.
Lawyer Datuk Seri Gopal Sri Ram, who represented two stateless persons who are turning eight and 20 this year, left it up to the court to decide whether or not to proceed with hearing today.
He told judges that the lawyers will be making a representation to the Home Ministry for his clients' citizenship.
Lawyer Ranee Sreedharan, whose 13-year-old client successfully won her citizenship bid in the Court of Appeal but was brought to the apex court when the government appealed, also indicated readiness for the hearing today.
"We are of the same position, if the court would like to hear the case, we are ready to proceed," she told the court, adding that her clients would also accept if hearing was deferred.
The lawyers who held a watching brief today are Annou Xavier and Larissa Ann Louis for the Bar Council and the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), Goh Siu Lin for the Association of Women Lawyers and Sharmila Sekaran for Voice of the Children.
Lawyers Francis Pereira and Sharmini Thiruchelvam also held a watching brief for their client, an eight-year-old boy whose parents were married after his birth, who was denied citizenship.
The Court of Appeal has already heard the appeal of the eight-year-old boy's case against the High Court's dismissal of his citizenship bid, but will only deliver its decision after the Federal Court decides on the five cases - including Ranee's case which is similar to his.
A representative from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) was also present in court.