Sat, Jan 24, 2009
The Star/Asia News Network
Malaysian govt to study proposal for dual citizenship


LONDON,ENGLAND: The Government will study a suggestion for Malaysians to be allowed to take up dual citizenship.

"We have to conduct a study on the pros and cons and make a political decision," said Malaysian High Commissioner to Britain Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamad.

The Government had always been pragmatic in terms of looking at issues, he said in response to the suggestion on dual nationality by Asean-UK Business Forum president S.K. Lingam.

Aziz said the issue was something new, as the country's laws and system did not provide for dual citizenship.

He had earlier briefed more than 80 representatives from Malaysian organisations on Thursday on the six-month visa-waiver test for Malaysians travelling to Britain.

Two officers of the International Organisation for Migration, Fan Yeung and Holta Celmeta, spoke on the agency's offer of a free ticket home for Malaysians whose visas had expired, were staying illegally in Britain or were asylum seekers.

Aziz said Britain seemed happy with the outcome of its final visa-waiver assessment on Malaysia following a trip by its officers to Kuala Lumpur last November.

"But whether it will translate into favouring Malaysia remains to be seen," he said, adding that there was also no indication when a final decision would be made.

Lingam said he believed many Malaysian professionals in the UK - accountants, lawyers, IT executives and engineers, among them - shared his views on dual citizenship.

He said the question of loyalty did not arise as they would still have a bond with, and affinity for, their country of origin.

"It helps them to stay connected with Malaysia. The emotional and umbilical cords are still there," said Lingam, who has stayed in Britain for more than 40 years.

"This is the current thinking among them," he said, adding that dual nationality had a lot of mileage and would benefit Malaysia in the long run.

He said many Malaysians with permanent resident status were also worried they might have to give up their citizenship following Britain's move to introduce compulsory identity cards for foreign nationals.

Lingam said he would discuss the issue with fellow Malaysians and submit a paper to Aziz.

Chinese Information and Advice Centre chairman Edmond Yeo echoed similar views, saying it was high time to plug the brain drain.

"I don't think it's a question of loyalty. It's a question of opportunity, as many are driven here economically," he said.

He said he knew fellow Malaysians who would never give up their citizenship despite living and working in Britain as permanent residents.

But the moment they have to take up British passports, Malaysia would end up losing them, he added.

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