Federal court grants final adjournment in hearing over stateless children

Tan Sri Richard Malanjum

PUTRAJAYA: A Federal Court nine-man bench yesterday granted a final adjournment of the hearing of the appeals of five cases involving Malaysian-born children over the granting of citizenship.

Senior federal counsel Suzana Atan had informed the court that she was instructed by Attorney-General Tommy Thomas to seek a postponement of the hearing because he needed time to look at all the applications.

She requested six weeks.

She said the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) could not proceed with the appeal as Thomas had not looked at the files of those cases and had not given his views on the cases.

Suzana also told the court that the AGC had also not received any instruction from Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who was on medical leave and had returned to work only this month.

Chief Justice Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, who chaired the bench, set Oct 25 as the next hearing date for the appeals, and said “rain or shine” the matter would proceed on that day.

Malanjum said he was concerned for the welfare of the children if there was a further adjournment of the appeals.

He also allowed an application by counsel to prohibit the media from publishing the names of the children and their parents or adoptive parents.

The other judges were Court of Appeal president Tan Sri Ahmad Maarop, Chief Judge of Malaya Tan Sri Zaharah Ibrahim, Federal Court judges Tan Sri Azahar Mohamed, Tan Sri Aziah Ali, Datuk Alizatul Khair Osman Khairuddin, Datuk Rohana Yusuf and Datuk Mohd Zawawi Salleh and Court of Appeal judge Datuk Umi Kalthum Abdul Majid.

This is the fifth time the hearing of the appeals has been postponed since March.

On Sept 11 last year, the Federal Court granted the leave to appeal on several legal questions, including whether the reference to blood or lineage was required under the Federal Constitution in determining the citizenship of a child.

The first two cases involved a 20-year-old whose birth parents were unknown and they were adopted by Malaysian parents and an eight-year-old boy who was born to a Malaysian father and a Thai mother who were not legally married when he was born.

The Court of Appeal last year rejected their appeals in respect to their citizenship bids after ruling that they should have also shown proof that they are not citizens of other countries.

Two other cases involved two boys, aged 17 and 16, with unknown birth parents and who were separately adopted by two Malaysian couples.

The fifth case involved a 13-year-old girl who successfully won her citizenship bid in the Court of Appeal but her matter was brought to the Federal Court when the government appealed.

Datuk Dr Cyrus Das, one of the counsel appearing for the parties in two cases, said the welfare of the children, especially those who were in their teenage years, would be affected as they did not have identity cards and could not apply for the driving licence and open bank accounts. — Bernama

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