Grandmother: Stateless boy always prays for IC before attending court

By Ida Lim
Lee Ah Moi said her grandchild is “deprived of all the benefits” granted to Malaysian citizens, noting that he has to pay for public schooling and healthcare — which would otherwise be provided for free or at minimal cost. — File pic

PUTRAJAYA, March 16 — A stateless six-year-old boy born here is well aware that he is not recognised as a Malaysian citizen and fervently prays for an identification card each time he comes to court, his grandmother said today.

Lee Ah Moi said her grandchild had not been able to sleep last night ahead of the Court of Appeal’s decision today on his bid for citizenship.

“Always when we come to court, he says ‘please lah let me have the IC’.

“Everytime we want to come to court, he will say, ‘I pray, pray, pray that I’ll get my IC’. Whole night also cannot sleep. He knows,” she told reporters when met at court here with the child.

Lee said she has been applying for citizenship status for her grandchild for five years now.

“He needs to have a status, otherwise his life will be difficult for him.

“When he grows up, it will hurt him. He will feel very upset,” she added.

Lee said her grandchild is “deprived of all the benefits” granted to Malaysian citizens, noting that he has to pay for public schooling and healthcare — which would otherwise be provided for free or at minimal cost.

The Court of Appeal today dismissed the bid by Lee’s grandchild to be recognised as a citizen of Malaysia, ruling that he and his Malaysian father had failed to prove that he was stateless or not born a citizen of any other country.

Lee’s grandchild was born to her son Lim Jen Hsian and a Thai woman on October 6, 2010 in a hospital in Kuala Lumpur, with the couple not legally married.

The Thai woman had abruptly left the duo in April 2011 when the child was six months old, with Lim saying in court documents that his multiple attempts to track down and contact the woman had proven unsuccessful.

Citing his illegitimate status resulting from the couple lacking official marriage status, the Court of Appeal today said that Lim’s son acquires the citizenship of his biological mother who is a citizen of Thailand and would not be granted Malaysian citizenship even though his biological father is Malaysian.

In his affidavit previously filed in court to support the citizenship bid, Lim had voiced his worries over his son’s future without citizenship status, noting that he himself suffers serious heart ailment and has been told that he would not have long to live.

Lim had said the denial of citizenship status to his son renders him stateless, adding that the child is forced to live without personal identification documents and without a status recognised by both government and private agencies.

“This stateless status will continue and will impact the coming generations if the second applicant has children,” he said, referring to his son as the second applicant.

“The second applicant will also face problems when faced with legal enforcement officers such as police and immigration, even though he is not a foreigner.

“He will face difficulties in doing any registration or to get any civil documents relating to birth, death, marriage, driving licence, business, passports and so on,” he said in the court document, also noting that his son will be deprived of citizenship benefits of access to public education, public healthcare and legitimate work.

Lim and his son’s joint legal challenge filed in April 28, 2014 had named the National Registration Department director-general, the Home Ministry and the government of Malaysia as respondents.

Among other things, they are seeking for the government’s recognition that the child is granted citizenship by operation of law, as well as an issuance of the identification document for children called MyKid or a certificate to confirm his citizenship.

Lim’s lawyers N. Surendran and Latheefa Koya confirmed today that they will be appealing the Court of Appeal’s decision.