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Saturday, 9 May 2009

How British Overseas Citizens (ex-Malaysian) able to regain his Malaysian citizenship?

High Court reinstates man's citizenship

Today was the day Lee Thean Hock stopped feeling like a second-class citizen. The High Court reinstated his Malaysian citizenship which was revoked on Nov 5, 2003 because he was a holder of a British Overseas' Citizen passport (BOCP).

The problem arose as Immigration and National Registration Department officers did not understand the privileges accorded to British Overseas' Citizen passport holders.

*Important Note: Any person holding Malaysian citizenship is also disallowed to hold any other country's citizenship. Malaysia does not allow dual citizenship.

Describing his experience as a "nightmare", Lee said: "I was viewed by everyone as a pariah."

The chartered architect, 50, noted that his case was reported in the newspapers and this put a strain on the family.

"My two teenage sons were ridiculed in school for having a father who was an illegal immigrant. Friends and professional colleagues distanced themselves from me and clients were calling to terminate business dealings."

Lee, who was represented by Darshan Singh Khaira, Chan Kok Keong and Lucia Minta, had argued that holding a British Overseas' Citizen passport was neither an exclusive right of British citizens, nor was it an equivalent of a British passport.

Lee is all smiles.

It was also not an act of acquiring British citizenship.

In the case presided by Justice Datuk Mohd Noor Abdullah, Lee named the NRD director-general, Immigration director-general, Home Affairs Ministry and the Malaysian Government as respondents.

Senior Federal Counsel Narkunavathy Sundareson, who appeared for the respondents, said the respondents admitted they were confused over the British Overseas' Citizen passport , which they assumed was the equivalent of acquiring British citizenship.

A British Overseas' Citizen passport , given to those born in the Straits Settlement before independence, is equivalent to a permanent residence with a right of abode only in the United Kingdom.

Lee, born in Penang on May 12, 1955, said in his affidavit supporting the application for the restoration of his Malaysian citizenship, that he went to study in the UK in 1986.

While there, he applied for permanent residence but was told he was automatically entitled to a British Overseas' Citizen passport as he was born before Merdeka Day in the Straits Settlement.

British authorities then issued him with that passport and sent his Malaysian passport to the Malaysian High Commission in London.

Upon his return to Malaysia in 1992, he went to the Immigration Department to reclaim his passport but was advised to first obtain a confirmation from the NRD that he was a citizen.

In 1999, the NRD issued him an identity card and two years later the Immigration issued him a passport.

He then surrendered the British Overseas' Citizen passport .

In Oct 2004, Lee's Malaysian passport was confiscated by Immigration officials as their records showed he was no longer a citizen.

Despite having endured many sleepless nights, Lee was glad that it all worked out well.

"The fact that my citizenship has been restored is proof that justice exists in the Malaysian legal system," said Lee, who also thanked Home Affairs Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid for looking into his case last year.

Extracted from New Straits Times
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1 comment:

  1. This information is years old, and the report does not accurately describe the BOC passport.

    People reading it should be aware that the BOC passport does NOT give a right of abode in the UK.

    Those activating their BOC citizenship in the UK can expect to lose their Malaysian citizenship and Britain will do nothing to help them at all.

    They are stuck in limbo and may be for many years.

    If you are foolish enough to try this, do not complain that you have not been warned.

    Ben Scaro


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