Under the Federal Constitution, a person is a citizen by operation of law provided that one of his/her parents at the time of birth is a Malaysian or a permanent resident, or he/she was born in Malaysia and is not born a citizen of any country.  

However, the NRD’s practice in arbitrarily determining the nationality of individuals by registering them as “non-citizen” (bukan warganegara) or ”undetermined” (belum ditentukan) on their Birth Certificate has resulted in many stateless individuals in Malaysia. Examples of those who would be stateless are foundlings who were abandoned by their birth parents, children whose biological mother is a foreigner, children who were born before the registration of the parents’ marriage and individuals who inherit the status of statelessness from their stateless parents. 

Our Services

We have extensive experience in representing and providing legal advice to aggrieved parents and stateless individuals regarding their remedies and rights in challenging the NRD’s refusal to register the individuals as Malaysian.

We advise and provide legal representation to:

  • parents who seek a declaration of citizenship for their adopted child who has been registered as a “non-citizen” (bukan warganegara) or “undetermined” (belum ditentukan) on their birth certificate by the National Registration Department; 
  • parents who seek a declaration of legitimacy and citizenship for their child who was born prior to the registration of their marriage; 
  • individuals who were registered as “non-citizen” (bukan warganegara) or “undetermined” (belum ditentukan) notwithstanding they were born in Malaysia; and
  • individuals who were born outside of Malaysia and were registered as “non-citizen” notwithstanding one of their parents is a Malaysian.

Our Experience

  • Successfully obtained declarations in 3 separate cases in the High Court that the children born in Malaysia and were lawfully adopted by Malaysian citizens are Malaysian citizens; and obtained orders of mandamus directing the NRD to register the children as citizens of Malaysia.
  • Represented adopted children in multiple judicial reviews against the National Registration Department’s decision to refuse citizenship to the adopted children.
  • Represented the adopted children in an application for reference of constitutional questions to the Federal Court on a declaration of citizenship. 
  • Represented individuals who were born outside of Malaysia in seeking a declaration of citizenship notwithstanding one of their parents is a Malaysian. 
  • Represented illegitimate children in seeking declaration of legitimacy and citizenship pursuant to the subsequent marriage of their parents. 
  • Providing legal advice to the New Zealand Immigration and United Kingdom Visa and Immigration Department on the Malaysian adoption and citizenship process and the effect of statelessness in Malaysia, in support of the application for foreign citizenship of the children adopted in Malaysia.

Related Services

Reviews & Testimonials

“We have been using the services of MWKA for a number of years and have found them to be professional, competent and efficient.

We would like to express our gratitude to the team of MWKA, particularly to Mr Raymond Mah, Ms Liow Pei Xia and Ms Jasmine Wong for their dedication, support and empathy. We truly appreciate their good legal knowledge, vast experience and excellent analytical skills. Most importantly, they always have their clients’ interest at heart. They help plan and strategize on how best to move forward in achieving a positive outcome.

We would not hesitate to describe MWKA as a professional, top quality and trustworthy legal firm. We would highly recommend MWKA to others who wish to engage their professional services.” – P & Y, Petaling Jaya

“We are deeply appreciative and happy with the services provided by your team of competent, responsible and reliable staff, particularly Raymond Mah and Jasmine Wong. We will not hesitate to recommend your excellent services to others.” -Mr & Mrs C, Selangor

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Raymond Mah
Managing Partner
John Chan
Prisilla Chong
Jasmine Wong
Eric Toh
Janessa Kok
Anis Mohd Sohaimi

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The Malaysian Adoption Act 1952 does not address the citizenship of adopted children. As a result, the nationality of adopted children in Malaysia has been determined arbitrarily by the National Registration Department (NRD) in the exercise of its administrative function of registering orders granted by the Malaysian courts. By refusing citizenship to many adopted children, the NRD has forced aggrieved parents to subsequently apply to the Minister of Home Affairs for citizenship for their adopted children, which decision is discretionary and beyond judicial review.

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