PETALING JAYA: A Malaysian father and a Filipino mother who failed to obtain Malaysian citizenship for their 10-year-old son through a court decision will again apply to the government for recognition.
Lawyer Sharmini Thiruchelvam said the parents believed the boy deserved the citizenship as his biological father is a Malaysian.
“The parents will make an application to the national registration department (JPN) in due course,” she said in response to Friday’s narrow 4-3 verdict to dismiss an appeal as the boy was illegitimate at the time of his birth and the parents were only married five months later.
Sharmini told FMT the parents had two options to obtain citizenship as provided for under the Federal Constitution – for the government to consider under special circumstances, and when one of the parents is a Malaysian.
She said the parents had made an application to JPN in 2011 but was rejected the following year, culminating in the foiling of a suit.
Sharmini said the boy, whose identity was withheld on the order of the court, went to a school near his home in Petaling and he needed to apply for a student visa that would last only three years.
“His father also has to pay the education ministry a levy annually. As a non-citizen, the boy does not receive any free books and study aid,” she said.
Sharmini, who initiated the proceedings in the High Court with fellow lawyer Francis Pereira on a pro bono basis, said the boy is also not entitled to free vaccinations like BCG and free dental check-ups that are provided at school.
“At such a tender age, the boy already faces discrimination and will, of course, wonder why his friends and classmates are treated differently,” she said.
The majority in the Federal Court decision ruled that an illegitimate child followed the citizenship of the mother, while the minority held that the citizenship of a child could be determined by the mother if the identity of the father was unknown.
The boy was born in 2010 to the couple who were initially not legally married. The child only held a Filipino passport.
His mother legally married the 55-year-old Malaysian father in February 2011, five months after he was born, and the family now lives in Malaysia.
DNA testing showed the man is the biological father. The custody and control of the child have always been with his parents. However, the boy’s application for citizenship was rejected by JPN in 2012.
The parents then sought a declaration that their child is a Malaysian citizen and a directive to register him as a citizen.