DAP Batu Kawan parliamentarian Kasthuri Patto questioned how the National Registration Department (NRD) approved the citizenship of Sarawak Governor Abdul Taib Mahmud's wife in a 'record' time of just six years, while permanent residents and undocumented Sarawak natives have waited for decades for the same privilege.
"Approval of Ragad Waleed Al-Kurdi's citizenship in such a short period of time clearly shows heavy, hidden hands that pushed for it to be sped up," she said in a statement.
The matter came to her attention following news reports that Ragad had cast her vote in the 11th Sarawak state election on May 7, reportedly her second time voting.
Kasthuri noted that to be able to vote in an election, Ragad would have to be a blue MyKad holding citizen of the country.
She asked how did Ragad, who married Taib Mahmud in 2010, be granted citizenship and voting rights in just six years.
She said that there were only two ways that Ragad could become a citizen, either by application as the lawful spouse of a citizen, or if she applied for it after becoming a permanent resident.
As Taib's wife, she can apply for citizenship under Article 15 (1) or through naturalisation, under Article 19 of the Immigration Act.
However, before she can be registered as a citizen under Article 15 (1) as the lawful wife of a citizen, she needs an entry permit from the Immigration Department.
This requires the applicant to be over the age of 21 and that the applicant has resided in the federation for a period of not less than 10 years in a period of 12 years, including the 12 months immediately preceding the date of application.
The second way she can become a citizen is via Section 10 of the Immigration Act, where she can apply for citizenship after completing five years of residence in Malaysia, and an additional two years after getting the entry permit, to becoming a citizen.
In either case, Kasthuri argued that even in an ideal situation, it should take Ragad at least seven years before becoming a MyKad holder, though she said that real cases will prove that it takes more than 10 years for the application to come through.
"Which article of the Federal Constitution was used for a Syrian woman who became a wife of a Malaysian citizen, being awarded citizenship and granted voting rights in just six years?" she asked.
Kasthuri said that the same rule of thumb to process and approve Ragad's application with such high efficiency and speed, should be applied to processing and approving the tens of thousands of other outstanding applications.
"(Undocumented) Sarawak natives especially, are not even allowed to come to Peninsular Malaysia because they are still waiting to be legally recognised as Malaysian citizens even though their ancestors had toiled the land for centuries.
"They are unable to enjoy their indigenous rights and their children are stripped of their rights to education and healthcare," said the DAP MP, adding that Ragad will never know such sufferings as her application, at least, seemed to have been fast-tracked.