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Malaysian men urged to register marriages with foreign women


KANGAR: Malaysian men tying the knot with foreign women should register their marriages in Malaysia to avoid unnecessary hassles, especially in obtaining Malaysian citizenship for their children, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong.

Many Malaysians -- especially those from the Siamese community living in the rural areas bordering Thailand in Perlis, Kedah, Perak and Kelantan -- were not aware of the importance of registering their marriages with their Thai spouses in Malaysia or at least at the Malaysian consulate in Thailand, if the marriage took place in Thailand.

He said the lack of awareness among the Siamese community in the rural areas had caused them to face problems in obtaining citizenship status for their children, thus leaving the children unable to enrol in government schools.

Speaking at a press conference after the MyDaftar campaign at Wat Macchimaprasit in Jejawi, here with the Siamese Bumiputera community yesterday, Lee suggested that those who had not registered their marriages with the National Registration Department or the Malaysian Consulate in Thailand should do so at once.

"There have also been cases of parents who had never registered their marriages and are now facing difficulties in registering their children at government schools here as their children were not considered Malaysians.

"This was because many failed to understand that if a marriage with a foreign wife was not registered in Malaysia, then the nationality of the child follows that of the mother.

"For example, if the mother is Thai, then the child will be a Thai national, regardless of whether the husband or the father of the child is a Malaysian."

Lee said in Perlis alone, where the Siamese community numbered about 7,300 people, more than 970 such cases had been recorded by the the NRD from 2011 up to Jan 2013.

They involved matters related to citizenships, late birth registrations and birth certificates for children.

However, he said the number recorded in 2012, with 312 cases, was half that recorded in 2011, with 647 cases.

It is learnt that based on the figures obtained from the NRD database from 2007, more than 57,000 non-Muslim locals nationwide had married foreign spouses. Of these, 45,691 (79.5 per cent) were men while 11,790 (20.5 per cent) were women.

Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Md Isa Sabu urged parents in the Siamese community facing difficulties in registering their children at government schools to bring up the matter with him.

He said such matters could also be discussed with the state Education Department.

"We are aware there have been cases of children not allowed to register in government schools as they were not Malaysians.

"However, parents with genuine problems should bring up this matter and we will find a solution to it."

Yesterday's programme, which saw more than 150 Siamese registering at the MYDaftar campaign, was also attended by Senator Datuk Boon Som Inong and NRD Birth, Deaths and Adoption Division director, Zulhairin Yahya.

Members of the Siamese Bumiputera community checking the status of their birth certificates during the MyDaftar campaign at Wat Macchimaprasit in Jejawi, Perlis, yesterday. Pic by Amran Hamid

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