Onus on ‘paperless’ in M’sia to use vaccination certs as ‘proof of identity’ in law

Onus on ‘paperless’ in M’sia to use vaccination certs as ‘proof of identity’ in law.

Proof of identity in law does not mean M’sian or a foreign passport only.

The gov’t has finally decided that undocumented people will be vaccinated as well. That means they don’t need to show “proof of identity” in law, as initially demanded by the gov’t.

The virus doesn’t discriminate. If the paperless remain unvaccinated, they place other unvaccinated people at risk as well. True, the vaccinated could also infect the unvaccinated. That’s another story.

It can be said that the onus remains on the “paperless” to use vaccination certs as “proof of identity” in law.

It may be recalled that Home Affairs Minister Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar said in Kota Kinabalu in late 2008 that “everyone in M’sia will get an identity but not necessarily a M’sian identity”.

Syed Hamid added the gov’t would begin issuing temporary residence green cards to foreigners but that process may since come to a grinding halt.

There were problems in the past because many people did not realise that it needed to be renewed and was not a valid travelling document, he said.

The proof of identity in law, as Syed Hamid said, does not mean M’sian.

Syed Hamid had turned up in Sabah to personally hand over a blue MyKad to a lady, Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin, 78, who had been given a red MyKad for the document she lost to a pickpicket. She refused to accept the red MyKad. It made headlines in local papers.

The National Registration Dept (NRD) explained that there was no proof that she was a citizen.

Apparently, the father came from China, the mother was Orang Asal.

She was never registered as a citizen and held a permanent resident status but was mistakenly issued a citizen’s identity card by the NRD in 1996, said Syed Hamid.

“It was only when she lost her MyKad did NRD officials realise that she was not a registered citizen and reverted to her status as a permanent resident. That’s why she got back her permanent resident status,” he said.

Syed Hamid said Yong lost her blue MyKad twice.

Syed Hamid wasn’t an exception in exercising prerogative and discretionary powers on citizenship.

Likewise, after GE14 on Thurs 10 May 2018, Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad approved, as promised during the run-up, citizenship for 3K stateless people of ethnic Indian origin in Malaya who were 60 years old and above. They were British subjects.

That paved the way for their descendants — children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren — to get citizenship under operation of law.

Generally, case studies highlighted by the media show that citizenship if delayed are granted even in the worst case scenario. That may happen at least one week before the Applicant dies, or one week after. It sounds strange but true. The truth remains stranger than fiction.

It can be argued that everyone in M’sia, eligible or otherwise, will be given citizenship later, if not sooner.

The Director General of the NRD has prerogative and discretionary powers under the National Registration Act 1959.

The wheels of bureaucracy in M’sia, perhaps elsewhere as well outside the West, grind ever so slowly.

It may be asked: “What’s the use of citizenship just before death or just after death?”

Such citizenship may not be useful to the deceased or dying. It would be useful for the children and other descendants to establish the right to citizenship under operation of law.

Having said that, those seeking citizenship in M’sia are unwilling to wait for the DG. So, they keep taking to the court in ever increasing numbers.

Many have been granted citizenship by the Federal Court while probably an even greater number have been denied.

In the case of those denied citizenship by the court, it does not say the Applicants could never be citizens.

The illegal immigrants deported from Sabah to the Philippines, for example, are routinely sent back to M’sia if not born in that country (Philippines). Citizenship in M’sia, unlike in the Philippines, isn’t by jus soli (birthplace) but by jus sanguinis (blood ties).

In Sabah, the added difficulty remains that the Orang Asal don’t accept the paperless as citizens. Citizenship means voting rights. The Orang Asal fear they will compromise or lose their sovereignty if foreigners get citizenship.

The Orang Asal take the position that it’s not necessary for foreigners to have citizenship to stay in M’sia.

There’s case law in M’sia that the onus remains on the stateless to prove their status in law. The Federal Court advised the stateless to seek confirmation on their status from their home country and report back to it.

In M’sia, for example, those away from the country for ten years or more lose their citizenship if their passports were not renewed. At the same time, the Federal Constitution says under Article 26B that no one can be deprived of citizenship if he or she has no alternative citizenship.

It’s gov’t policy that M’sians can be deprived of citizenship if they vote in a foreign election or hold dual citizenship.

Many countries appear to accept their citizens back no matter how long they have been away.

Author: fernzthegreat

Joe Fernandez holds a honours degree in management, majoring in economics, and has opted from academia in law to being a jurist. He was trained professionally on the job as a journalist. He's a longtime Borneo watcher, keen on the history and legal aspects of Malaya's presence in Sabah and Sarawak. He teaches the English language privately and has emerged as a subject matter expert in public examination techniques.

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