Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Whither Citizenship

I read a very confusing article in TheStar today. According to the article, our dearest PM had warned fellow citizens to think carefully before giving up their citizenship as they would not get it back. While I do agree that this is not a decision that should be taken lightly, I'm not so sure about the part where they would not be given it back. To quote:

"The Home Affairs Ministry has made a decision to allow citizens to surrender their citizenship. The ministry has its own reasons to give their approval for this. However, there is one thing that Malaysians must know and which I want to stress here. Those who have given up their citizenship cannot get it back if they suddenly want to become Malaysians again."
I had a quick check of our constitutional bits on citizenship, just to be sure. In order to qualify to apply for a citizenship, the Constitution merely spells out requirements on (1) number of years being resident in Malaysia (2) being of good character (3) able to speak the Malay language. As for the parts that spell out the clauses for the government to terminate a person's citizenship, it talks mainly about (1) holding a dual citizenship (2) shown that he/she is disloyal to the country such as in the times of war (3) is a sentenced criminal in another country (4) if the citizenship was fraudulent or a mistake.

The Constitution is pretty clear on these things. In summary, if any random person has shown that he/she likes Malaysia and intends to stay, he/she can apply for citizenship. If a person has shown that he/she is disloyal or of bad character he/she can then be deprived of citizenship. What it doesn't say is that our government can automagically deprive a person of citizenship if they had given it up prior. Furthermore, it doesn't seem to be in the jurisdiction of the PM or Home Affairs Ministry to deprive a person of citizenship. According to the Constitution, this can only be done by a Committee of Inquiry that is headed by someone with judicial experience.

But then hoh, I'm not a lawyer lah. So, that's why I'm confused by all these things. I'm not even sure if it's within the jurisdiction of the executive or judiciary to deprive a person of citizenship. Furthermore, if a person previously gave up the citizenship, but then later regret it and wants it back, and manages to fulfill all the requirements of a random person applying for a new citizenship, I'm not sure how the law applies. I dunno lar, since I AM NOT A LAWYER.

Then, the article goes further to say that about 106k people had given up their citizenships in the last decade. Of the number, about 75% were Malays (TheStar actually understated it as 70%) and 24% were Chinese while the balance 1% was Indians and others. According to the CIA factbook, about 50% of our population are Malays (Chinese 24%, Indian 7%). If these numbers are to be believed, it would seem that the largest group of people leaving, by a wide margin of 25%, are the Malays. I can't begin to imagine why, seeing that they have all the rights and privileges that none of the other races enjoy.

When asked why there was a seemingly mass exodus of Malays leaving the country, UMNO information chief said that it was not a cause for concern, although it would be good to find out why they were leaving. Quote: "In a sense, the Malays are just doing what their forefathers did. Travel and see the world. Venture into new areas and the unexpected." What a nostalgic and beautifully phrased answer if only it was true. The Malay race was never much of a sea-faring one. However, I do think that they need to find out why the Malays are running away from their nusantara. There must be something severely wrong for this to be happening.

So, this seemed to be the most important bit in the news. If a person had already made the difficult decision to give up their Malaysian citizenship, it's quite unlikely that they would want it back later. So, that really isn't much of an issue. The main issue, which was underplayed, is the mass exodus of ethnic Malays from their motherland. Something is definitely wrong with our system if the privileged race are racing to leave.


KC said...

Haha..and did u read about Badawi saying NEP will stay? Maybe u can blog about it and find some links it to this one? Maybe it's coz of NEP? hmpss...

Shawn Tan said...

Yea, I read about the NEP thingie. But I've commented so much about the NEP, I'm quite bored talking about it dy.