Babies born to foreign wives of Malaysian men whose marriages are not legal may be deported to the mother’s country of origin.
Deputy Home Affairs minister Datuk Tan Chai Ho said children born to couples whose marriages were not registered with the National Registration Department were considered illegitimate and would not be granted Malaysian citizenship.
“The parents may have to resort to adopting the baby to keep it,” he said yesterday.
Last year, the department came across 15 cases of Malaysians and their foreign “wives” being duped into paying thousands of ringgit for fake marriage certificates.
According to the Federal Constitution, any newborn with a Malaysian parent would be granted automatic citizenship provided the parents were legally married.
He added that a child’s citizenship status would always follow that of its mother if it was considered to be born out of wedlock.
“A birth certificate will still be issued in the child’s name but in the citizenship column, the words ‘Section 13’ (of the National Registration Act 1959) referring to anak luar nikah (illegitimate child), will be written,” he explained.
He noted that in the past two-years, some 13,000 Malaysians had married foreign women, especially those from Vietnam, China and the Philippines.
“Many of these couples only realised their marriages were not legal when they tried to register the births of their babies,” he said.
Tan added that the department was investigating if matchmaking agencies were part of a syndicate which specialised in issuing forged marriage certificates.
He said a marriage involving a foreigner would only be considered legal if witnessed by a registrar of marriages.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong said many of the complainants who had approached him about problems regarding their marriages could not give substantial proof that they were legally married.