KUALA LUMPUR: The Home Ministry is targeting to process at least 10,000 applications for citizenship this year, says Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

Saifuddin said since he was appointed Home Minister in December last year, 4,294 citizenship applications had been processed, with almost 67% approved and the rest rejected.

“Based on statistics from 2013 to Feb 21, 2023, there were 132,272 applications to become Malaysian citizens.

“I have decided on 4,300 and there are not many left. And I’m confident that by year-end I can hit (process) 10,000 applications,” he told the Dewan Rakyat today (Feb 22) when winding up the debate on the motion of thanks on the royal address on behalf of the ministry.

Saifuddin said the reasons for rejecting citizenship applications included the fact that applicants did not register their marriage when applying for their children’s citizenship; applicants did not have proof of residency in the country when applying; applicants did not have locus standi; and elements of suspicion and conflicting facts were detected during checks.

He said he would hold a special briefing for MPs to clarify issues concerning citizenship applications, including the proper procedure and scenarios that deserved attention.

Saifuddin also hoped all MPs would support proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution to provide for the granting of automatic citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners.

“The move we are taking is about humanity, involving relations between a mother and child. Laws made in the 1950s did not foresee that our women would be meeting their life partners and marrying in various parts of the world.

“It’s 2023 now and our laws shouldn’t remain static. That’s why we decided to make the amendments and we are targeting for cross-party support from 148 (MPs, two-thirds majority),” he added.

Saifuddin had earlier said that the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2023 on citizenship would be tabled in the current Parliament session.

Meanwhile, he said the draft of the Drugs and Substance Abuse (Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation) Bill to replace the Drug Addict (Treatment and Rehabilitation) Act 1983 was ready and being vetted by the Attorney General’s Chambers.

He said the new law would improve access to treatment and rehabilitation, encompassing a more comprehensive legal aspect. – Bernama