Stateless ethnic Chinese who do not have sufficient command of the national language should not be granted citizenship, even if they were born in the federation before the country’s independence, said Perkasa Youth.
The wing’s chief Irwan Fahmi Ideris said this in response to the Federation of Chinese Associations Malaysia (Hua Zong) president’s reported claims that some 100,000 ethnic Chinese were still stateless despite already having three generations in the country.
Hua Zong president Pheng Yin Huah was quoted in Sinar Harian as citing Article 16 of the Federal Constitution which states that anyone who was born in the federation before independence day qualifies for citizenship by registration.
Pheng added many of them could not get their citizenship as they failed their interviews conducted in the national language.
Irwan said while Pheng was right about Article 16, the same provision also set out that the applicant must have a basic command of the national language.
“Knowledge in Bahasa Malaysia is important… Any country would emphasise knowledge and fluency in the respective language of their country.
“What is the meaning of Malaysian citizenship if they do not know how to speak in the Malay language?
“How do we picture a Malaysian society that is multiracial but cannot speak the Malay language? This would be an embarrassment to the country,” he said.
Irwan urged all quarters to read and fully understand the provision of the constitution.
Article 16 of the constitution states: “Any person of or over the age of 18 years who was born in the Federation before Merdeka Day is entitled, upon making application to the federal government, to be registered as a citizen”.
It then sets out four conditions that applicants must satisfy the federal government.
The conditions are: having to reside in the federation during the seven years immediately preceding the application date; intends to be a citizen permanently; is of good character and has an elementary knowledge of the Malay language.