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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 5 ― Karthiyani Ragunathan has finally received official documentation to prove her Malaysian citizenship, 10 years after she was born at home here to her Malaysian parents.
Lawyer Latheefa Koya, who is an adviser to rights group Lawyers for Liberty (LFL), confirmed that the child received her birth certificate and MyKid — an identity card for Malaysian children aged below 12.
The former Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission chief said Karthiyani had been without a birth certificate since she was born in 2010 simply because she was delivered at home.
However, she insisted there should be no doubt about her status as a Malaysian citizen when her parents are citizens.
“She is born in Malaysia, her parents are both Malaysians, her siblings are Malaysians,” Latheefa told Malay Mail when contacted, confirming that the siblings born before and after Karthiyani were all recognised as Malaysians as they were not born at home.
According to Latheefa, Karthiyani was delivered at home as her mother would not have made it to a hospital in time for the birth.
Latheefa said Karthiyani’s parents had obtained a letter from Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) to record and verify the details of her birth, and lodged a police report to say that she was born at home.
However, the National Registration Department would not issue a birth certificate to Karthiyani despite these documents, she said.
Latheefa said Karthiyani was unable to go to school as a result and it was only this year that she managed to be enrolled.
Karthiyani was one of the citizenship cases assisted by LFL together with activist Shanmugam Narayanasamy, with Latheefa confirming that a fresh attempt to obtain a birth certificate was carried out after Karthiyani’s case was highlighted in a 2018 press conference by LFL.
The NRD interviewed Karthiyani on November 26, 2019 before issuing yesterday her birth certificate under the category of late birth registration and the MyKID card, Latheefa said.
Latheefa said that this was not a case of applying for citizenship registration by the government, as Kathiyani is a citizen by operation of the law under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution read together with Section 1(a) of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Constitution.
Under those two provisions, a person born in Malaysia with at least one of the parents being a citizen or permanent resident in Malaysia at the time of the person’s birth is a Malaysian citizen by operation of the law.
When contacted, non-governmental organisation Malaysian Tamilan Today president Shanmugam Narayanasamy, who has been directly assisting Karthyani’s case, said that the NRD had in 2010 turned down the birth registration application due to her birth at home, despite the police report and the Hospital Kuala Lumpur letter.
Shanmugam said Karthiyani’s mother had been admitted on the same day of the 2010 birth to Hospital Kuala Lumpur for three days and that there was a letter certifying this.
Shanmugam said that a new attempt was initiated in 2018 to have Karthiyani’s birth registered with the NRD requesting for more documents and witnesses, and in 2019 the NRD had asked for the HKL letter and for five witnesses to certify her birth.
With Karthyani’s father having passed away in 2019, the NRD in November 2019 interviewed Karthiyani and in December 2019 interviewed the five required witnesses including Karthiyani’s mother, her neighbours and Shanmugam himself, he said.
Shanmugam said the NRD had yesterday contacted him to inform him of the issuance of the birth certificate and MyKid, adding that this morning he had went with Karthiyani, her mother and her brother to the NRD office at Jalan Duta to collect these documents.
Shanmugam confirmed that Karthiyani had not been able to attend school previously as she did not have a birth certificate, noting that he had obtained papers from the Education Department last December to enable her to attend primary school this year, but with such permission having to be renewed every two years.
But with the birth certificate and MyKid received today, Shanmugam said that Karthiyani will be able to attend school as a normal student without having to seek for regular renewals of her status as a student.