Senior citizen triumphs in Malaysian citizenship quest after being rejected for being a bad hat

KUALA LUMPUR - A 71-year-old former plumber finally succeeded in getting his Malaysian citizenship, after being rejected by the National Registration Department (NRD) for being "not of good character".

R. Kolandavaloo, from Klang, said he was very happy, as with the court ruling, he could now get his citizenship certificate and MyKad.

"I stole chicken and was jailed by the Klang magistrate's court in 1966. I did not commit any crime later and became a good person," he said.

The father of four said he was glad he would get a "blue IC" (identity card) like his other family members, and could apply for a Malaysian passport and travel to other countries.

Kolandavaloo had named the Home Minister, NRD director-general and the Malaysian Government as respondents in his judicial review application filed on Feb 28 last year.

High Court (Appellate and Special Powers) judge Justice Zaleha Yusof held that the respondents had acted unreasonable and irrationally in refusing him citizenship and ruling that it was a final order without any avenue for him to appeal.

However, Justice Zaleha did not make any order as to costs.

Earlier, Justice Zaleha told federal counsel Maisarah Juhari that she could have asked for more particulars from the applicant due to his age.

"Do not be too technical. You are dealing with a human being. He is an old man. That (offence) is more than 40 years ago. You have written to the police, who said he had not committed anything else. Is that not enough for good character?"

Justice Zaleha said further, "He did not hide that he was under restricted residence. Don't you think that people can change after 40 years?"

Kolandavaloo's lawyer M. Manoharan said this was believed to be the first case where a senior citizen was refused citizenship for allegedly being of bad character.

Manoharan argued that his client was not a habitual offender and could be granted citizenship as he had fulfilled other conditions under Article 16 of the Federal Constitution, including the requirement of having elementary knowledge of the Malay language.

The court papers revealed that Kolandavaloo had two convictions in 1965 and 1966 for theft and a minor offence, where he was jailed six months and fined RM50 (S$19.30) by the Klang magistrate's court.

NRD director-general Datuk Jariah Mohd Said said Kolandavaloo was under restricted residence from 1966 to 1973 in Mukim Serendah, Ulu Selangor, under police supervision.

He was issued a red identity card on July 16, 1968 and then given a brown one on Feb 2, 1979 for being under restricted residence. He obtained a red IC again on Dec 13, 1983.