Citizenship briefing programme meant to address statelessness

We never intended to promise citizenship status to anyone, said Stulang State assemblyman Andrew Chen Kah Eng.

“We never intended to promise citizenship status to anyone, as the laws related to this status are clearly stipulated in the country’s constitution, and the process set by the NRD must also be followed,” he said.

He said that the citizenship briefing and information programme (Taklimat dan Penerangan Kewarganegaraanb) is not intended to help foreign nationals apply for citizenship.

“Instead, it is to provide information, awareness, and understanding to Malaysian citizens whose family members are facing statelessness issues,” he said via a Facebook post.

He said that the briefing programme is designed to provide a clearer understanding to this group in dealing with relevant government departments, especially the National Registration Department (NRD), Ministry of Home Affairs (KDN), Immigration Department of Malaysia, and others.

“Referring to my social media post on May 31, it clearly showed the purpose of the program. Only when the infographic poster and caption previously uploaded were read separately by some parties, it cause confusion regarding the original purpose of our briefing program,” he added.

He said that among those often affected by citizenship issues are Malaysian citizens from the B40 category who are married to foreign nationals and have children.

“As the state assemblyman for Stulang, my Service Center is often approached by residents facing citizenship issues due to various factors such as marital breakdowns, which result in neglected documentation for the child, thus affecting their future,” he added.

“For example, marriages that are not legally recognized will face dead ends when required documentation such as a marriage certificate registered in Malaysia or identification documents of the non-citizen parent cannot be verified,” he added.

Andrew explained that, as a consequence, these children are deprived of education and health services, compelled to work at a young age, and vulnerable to social issues.

They cannot obtain passports for international travel, are often stigmatized by society, and are at high risk of passing on their “statelessness” status to future generations, Andrew added.

He said that there are also cases where applications have long been submitted to the relevant government departments but, for various reasons (ineligibility, insufficient documents), they cannot be processed. For such cases, we will assist in reviewing or appealing to the relevant departments.

“I hope this clarification can ease the confusion caused by our previous poster title and that speculation regarding this issue will no longer be amplified, referring to my social media statement on June 8,” he said.

The “Taklimat dan Penerangan Kewarganegaraan” poster for an event at Plaza Sentosa, Johor Bharu on June 30 recently went viral.

It was reported that following controversy and public criticism, the citizenship briefing programme scheduled for June 30 was postponed.

The programme was criticised by Umno Johor and Pas has also capitalized on this issue. 

On 8 June, Johor Umno Youth chief Noor Azleen Ambros demanded the immediate cancellation of the citizenship briefing and information program arranged by the Stulang Constituency Service Centre.

On 9 June, PAS information chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari labelled Chen’s decision to hold a citizenship briefing program as dangerous, equating it to “burning Malaysia.”

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