Home Ministry will proceed with citizenship law amendments despite pushback

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Sedition Act amendments to begin.

The Home Ministry will proceed to table the amendments to Section 1(a) and Section 2(3) of the citizenship law today despite criticism from various quarters.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the non-governmental organisations who had criticised the amendments should find a middle ground with the government to resolve citizenship issues.

“We wanted to table eight amendments and now we will proceed with seven after dropping one.

“I feel like the same spirit should be held by the NGOs where we try to find a middle ground.

Bernama

“The government doesn’t need to meet all of their demands. What’s important is that all of us want to solve citizenship issues,” he said at a press conference after the 217th National Day Celebration.

This comes after the Malaysian Citizenship Rights Alliance (MCRA) yesterday called for the government to drop or at least delay the tabling of amendments to Section 1(a) and Section 2(3) until data and evidence from the field and detailed studies are collected.

She said Sections 1(e) and 19B had been removed from the government’s amendment proposal, but both needed to be read together with other amended provisions.

Suriani said Section 19B must be read together with Section 1(a), while Section 1(e) needed to be read with Section 2(3).

This is because Section 1(a) aims to grant citizenship rights to permanent resident (PR) children while Section 19B assumes that the mother of a stranded child is a PR.

She said removing PR from Section 1(a) would jeopardise the right to citizenship for foundlings and intergenerational stateless children.

Saifuddin called for NGOs to give some space to the government to resolve all citizenship issues.

“Your opinion might be true, but it won’t always be true so please give some space to the government.

“In this case, there should be a give-and-take situation and we try to find a middle ground,” he added.

Last week, the government dropped two proposed amendments to the constitution on the citizenship of foundlings.

The two proposed amendments that will be dropped are 19B Part III of the Second Schedule and Section 1(e) Part I.

Meanwhile, the cabinet had given the green light two weeks ago to Saifuddin to initiate the process of amending the Sedition Act 1948.

He said the goal was to help the government curtail the provocations on 3R (race, religion, royalty) issues.

“The goal is not to make it more restrictive, but towards how we can invoke (the act) so that what is being called the 3R phenomena out there can be controlled,” he said in an episode of “Keluar Sekejap” which aired yesterday.

Last July, the government announced that it had agreed in principle to amend the Sedition Act to better protect the monarchy.

Saifuddin told the podcast yesterday that during audiences he had with the Malay rulers, they had questioned why attacks against the royal institution go unpunished.

“They ask ‘Datuk (Saifuddin), doesn’t our country have laws? Ten to 15 years ago open criticism of the royals didn’t happen, now it happens every day. Don’t we have laws?’” he said.

He said such views must be given due consideration as the monarchy’s role was enshrined in the constitution.

In line with this, Saifuddin said the government’s position is that the Sedition Act should be used against provocations against religion and royalty, and not for politics.

“The prime minister (Anwar Ibrahim) has told us to fight politics with politics, and not to use the Sedition Act,” he said. – NST and Malaysiakini