By Ida Lim | Malay Mail
The government has agreed to maintain the status quo for a Johor-born mother and her three Selangor-born children, all aged below 12, and not deport the stateless family to Indonesia for now.
New Sin Yew, one of the lawyers for the family, said the Malaysian government today informed the High Court in Kuala Lumpur that it would not object to the family’s stay application.
The stay application is meant to ensure the Immigration Department would not deport the four — who have lived in Malaysia their whole lives — before the High Court gets to hear the family’s challenge against their detention for the past three weeks by immigration authorities.
“We filed an urgent application to stay the deportation of mother and her three children so that they will not be deported from Malaysia. The counsel representing the government have very reasonably informed us and the court that they will not be objecting to the same.
“Tomorrow we will be appearing before the Judicial Commissioner to have the stay order recorded in open court. At least for now, we can be assured that the mother and her three children will remain in Malaysia and not a foreign country,” New said to Malay Mail when contacted.
Due to the urgency of ensuring the mother and her three children are not removed from Malaysia, the case management was brought forward one day to today.
The case management before senior assistant registrar Nur Azizah Jaafar was held at 3pm, with Deputy Public Prosecutor Siti Ruvinna Mohd Rawi representing the immigration officials, Home Minister and Malaysian government. Lawyer Vivek Sukumaran held a watching brief for the Bar Council today.
Lawyer Beatrice Chin is also representing the mother and the three children.
Based on the case management, New said the stay order will be recorded tomorrow before High Court judicial commissioner Roz Mawar Rozain at 2.30pm.
New said the High Court has also scheduled August 30 for the hearing of the mother and her three children’s application for habeas corpus, otherwise known as their application to challenge their immigration detention which they say is unlawful.
Ahead of the August 30 habeas corpus hearing, the High Court today directed the government to file its affidavit in reply by August 11, and the family to file their affidavit in reply by August 15 and their written submissions by August 18, while the government is to file written submissions in reply by August 23.
Based on court documents, the mother — identified only as D — was born in a government hospital in Johor Baru in 1986, which means she will be turning 36 this year.
As she was born to a couple originally from Indonesia but with permanent resident status in Malaysia, D should have been entitled to Malaysian citizenship under the Federal Constitution as she was born in Malaysia to a mother who was a Malaysian PR at the time of her birth.
On July 1, the Immigration Department arrested and detained the mother D and her three children — who have birth certificates to show their birth in either clinics or hospitals in Selangor — and have kept them at the Bukit Jalil immigration detention centre since then.
While the grandmother had asked non-profit organisation Buku Jalanan Chow Kit for help on July 1 to plead with the Immigration director-general for the release of the three grandchildren from immigration detention, there has yet to be any reply. The three stateless children have been receiving education opportunities from Buku Jalanan Chow Kit, as they are unable to attend government schools to receive primary education.
The grandmother later found out that the Immigration had decided to detain D as the National Registration Department had rejected her bid to renew her temporary identification documents, and that the children were detained together with D as they are all aged below 12.
On July 14, the Immigration authorities informed the grandmother’s lawyers that the Immigration Department would be deporting the young family of four to Indonesia.
On July 15, D and her three children filed the habeas corpus application to seek to be freed from Immigration detention, naming the four respondents as the Bukit Jalil immigration depot chief, the Immigration director-general, the home minister and the Malaysian government.
The family of four had also on July 15 applied for the stay order to prevent their removal from Malaysia before the court decides on their challenge against the alleged unlawful detention, explaining that they are all stateless persons who were born in Malaysia and have never left the country their entire lives.
They also said their welfare — especially the three young children aged 12, 11 and seven — would be harmed if they were to be removed from Malaysia.
The grandmother has said the Immigration’s act of detaining the three young children is detrimental to their wellbeing and mental health, highlighting it would not be in their best interests as detention centres are not suited for children.
The grandmother said D and the three children have not been brought to court or been charged for any criminal offences since their detention on July 1, believing that they were not detained because they had committed any crimes, but would be forcibly sent to Indonesia even though they had never entered Indonesia and have no family members in Indonesia.
The grandmother said her daughter and grandchildren have “legitimate expectation” to not be sent to Indonesia as they have never left Malaysia since their birth, and also said that she was advised by lawyers that D and her three children are all entitled to Malaysian citizenship under Article 14 of the Federal Constitution and that they would take the necessary legal action to have their citizenship rights recognised.
Yayasan Chow Kit’s founder and child rights activist, Datuk Hartini Zainudin had on July 18 wrote on Twitter about the plight of D and her three children, noting that the Malaysia-born D is the only one of her siblings to not have the blue identity card denoting Malaysian citizenship, and also questioned why the Immigration authorities have yet to release the three children from detention.