The Home Ministry has no power to grant or withdraw citizenship from Sabahans as that would contravene the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution, said Sepanggar MP Eric Majimbum.
"It is the law that determines whether a local Sabahan is a citizen and it has been agreed in the Malaysia Agreement and the Federal Constitution that all Sabahans are citizens," said Majimbum in a statement.
He was commenting on Home Minister Syed Hamid Albar's statement in The Star yesterday that he had directed the National Registration Department (NRD) to clearly state that permanent residency and citizenship were not rights but priviledges.
Syed Hamid also said his ministry had granted citizenship to Sino-Kadazan Yong Lee Hua @ Piang Lin, 78, because she was a 'genuine case'.
Yong was issued a red identification card meant for permanent residents after she lost her MyKad in February last year.
Only PR is a priviledge
Majimbum said that when Malaysia was formed in 1963, it was agreed upon that all Sabahans, native or otherwise, will automatically be made citizens.
He said that such provisions were explicitly laid down in the Malaysia Agreement and the amendments to the Federal Constitution.
Yong was therefore a citizen by operation of law, argued Majimbum.
'Therefore the question of the Home Minister "restoring" or "granting" her citizenship is therefore absolutely ridiculous as he has no power to grant or take away the citizenship of a person who is a citizen by operation of law," said Majimbum
Majimbum said that in the case of permanent residents, the minister was right in calling it a priviledge.
Yong's case drew an uproar after United Pasokmomogun Kadazandusun Murut Organasition (Upko) highlighted the matter to the press.
Upko had even threatened to review its position within Barisan Nasional should there be no revamp of the NRD.