POSTPONING the proposed Constitutional Amendment Bill until June demonstrates the government’s desire, willingness and readiness to listen to opposing views on matters that directly affect the lives of the people, particularly of stateless children.

This will allow for greater consultation, deliberation and discussion on an issue that has long been a bugbear for previous and current administrations.

Hopefully, everybody on both sides of the divide can finally say they have seen the light at the end of the tunnel.

Postponing the Bill allows for more extensive deliberation among stakeholders, policymakers, legal experts and civil society to come to an acceptable solution.

In thist context, it is hoped that the government will heed suggestions by some Members of Parliament that the Bill be referred to the Parliamentary Special Select Committee.

The role of such a committee is to gather feedback from the public and external organisations, and to leave no stone unturned in their task to present a comprehensive report.

Taking the time to thoroughly review and refine the proposed amendments can help ensure legal clarity, thus saving time and money in having to seek interpretation and clarification of clauses in the courts subsequently. This way, other unintended consequences and potential loopholes can be avoided.

The delay also allows for greater public awareness and education on the issue of statelessness, including its causes, consequences and potential solutions, leading to a more informed public.

At the same time, it is hoped that the proposed June deadline will not be pushed back further. This matter must be resolved before the youngest stateless child becomes a teenager.

Delaying the amendments beyond six months prolongs the vulnerability of stateless children and their adopted families who may continue to face legal and social barriers to assessing medical, educational and other essential services.

Given the government’s willingness to be guided by concurring and dissenting voices, it can be safely assumed that there will be no more delays, and that there will be finality to the final Constitutional amendments.

Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye

Kuala Lumpur