News & Views

A Malaysian Citizen At Last!

Juwon (with mother, Mei Mei) proudly shows his newly obtained citizenship certificate

In November last year, we shared the story of Mei Mei, a Malaysian mother from Kota Kinabalu whose son was born in Korea to a Korean father. Her son has recently received his rightful Malaysian citizenship.

The 11-year citizenship battle that began on 2011 has finally ended last month, when he received his citizenship certificate in Putrajaya.

When asked, Mei Mei said she felt as is a load has been lifted upon receiving the notification email that her son’s citizenship under Articles 14(1)(b) dan (1)(c) of the Federal Constitution has been approved on 21st of April 2022.

“I was so excited, and I was jumping up and down as I was telling the good news to my son, family and friends!” said Mei Mei.

The family then travelled to Putrajaya to receive the citizenship certificate on 26 April 2022.

“Juwon (Mei Mei’s son) was born in Korea but he has lived in Sabah since 2011 and loves everything about Malaysia. Finally, he has access to same rights as other Malaysian children, especially in medical and education,” according to Mei Mei.

The family travelled to Putrajaya shortly after receiving the approval email. They have been waiting 11 years

Mei Mei had almost given up hope as she had earlier emailed and called several times to find out the status of her son’s citizenship application, to no avail. She had plenty to be worried about if her son continued to be considered a foreigner by the Malaysian government.

Prior to this, Juwon had been largely home-schooled as Mei Mei and her husband was worried that they would be imposed with higher school fees as a non-citizen. She also constantly worried about massive medical costs, should her son ever get into a serious accident or have a serious illness that requires intensive care. This is because non-citizens are charged high fees at government hospitals, while Malaysians pay a heavily subsidised fee.

As a fully-fledged Malaysian citizen, Juwon will finally be able to apply for a Malaysian identity card and passport, and receive all the priveleges due to him as a citizen. The citizenship application approval could not come at a better time, as Juwon will be turning 12 years of age this year and due to attend secondary school next year.

Having this citizenship also means that Mei Mei and Juwon will no longer need to return to the Immigration office every six months to renew his social visit pass – the Visa Anak Kepada Warganegara, or a visa for a child to a citizen. The pass costs them RM120 each visit and involves the submission of extensive paperwork and long waits, which was made worse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking back at this journey, Mei Mei says that had she known what she does today. she would definitely have chosen to either give birth at Malaysia or register the baby at the embassy of Malaysia at South Korea without any delay, regardless of what she was told otherwise.

She is grateful to Family Frontiers Malaysia for their guidance, help and support for mothers to fight for the right for their children to get Malaysian citizenship.

Meanwhile, the fight for Malaysian mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children continues.

The Malaysian government has not yet dropped their appeal against the High Court’s decision to allow mothers to confer citizenship to overseas-born children. The Court of Appeal will provide their decision on June 22.

As to date, the government had gone to court 7 times to stop Malaysian women married to foreign spouses from conferring Malaysian citizenship to their overseas-born children.

This MOJO content was produced with the financial support of the European Union. Its contents are the sole responsibility of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Union, Internews,or SOLS 247 or NGOhub.

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