Can a child born out of lawful wedlock in Malaysia to a Malaysian citizen father and a non-citizen mother, the marriage of which was subsequently legitimised by virtue of the parents’ marriage, be a Malaysian citizen by operation of law under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution?
LEW YEE HONG @ LIEW YEE HONG & ANOR V KETUA SETIAUSAHA, KEMENTERIAN DALAM NEGERI & ORS  1 LNS 1475
- Lew Yee Hong @ Liew Yee Hong (“LYH”) is the biological father of Liew Shin Mei (“Daughter”).
- Daughter is a 12-year old minor who was born in Perak on 4 November 2006.
- At the time of the Daughter’s birth, LYH was not legally married to Daughter’s biological mother, Ms Perlita Martin Diaz. Ms Diaz is a citizen of the Republic of Philippines.
- After Daughter’s birth, the Registrar of Birth and Deaths Malaysia issued the Daughter with a birth certificate with citizenship status of non-citizen.
- LYH registered his marriage to Ms Diaz over a year after Daughter’s birth on 31 January 2008.
- On 20 February 2008, LYH made the first of his 3 applications to the Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara, Perak (“JPN”) for the Daughter to be accorded Malaysian citizenship.
- LYH did not receive any reply to his 1st application and made a 2nd application on 13 October 2011.
- On 17 December 2012, the Ketua Setiausaha, Kementerian Dalam Negeri (“Ministry of Home Affairs”) informed LYH that his application was unsuccessful and did not give any reasons for the rejection.
- On 9 September 2013, LYH made a 3rd application for Daughter’s citizenship to JPN which was rejected with no reasons given for the rejection (“Decision”).
- LYH filed an application in the High Court to challenge the Decision and for a declaration that Daughter is a Malaysian citizen by operation of law under Art 14(1)(b) and section 1(a) of Part II of the Second Schedule to the Federal Constitution which provides that every person born within the Federation of whose parents one at least is at the time of the birth, either a citizen or permanently resident in the Federation, are citizens by operation of law.
HIGH COURT DECISION – APPLICATION ALLOWED!
The High Court found as follows:
- Daughter had been rendered legitimate pursuant to the Legitimacy Act 1961 by virtue of her parents’ marriage.
- Daughter has a personal right to be a Malaysian citizen by operation of law under Article 14(1)(b) and section 1(a) of Part II of the Second Schedule to the Federal Constitution.
- By reason of Daughter’s legitimisation, the Daughter has a legitimate expectation to acquire a citizenship of Malaysia and to own rights as a Malaysian citizen.
- An order was made for the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue Daughter with a Malaysian citizenship certificate and a Malaysian MyKad Identity Card.