Published recently on The Malaysian Insider. This is my story.
If the principles of jus soli were strictly enforced in the country, I wouldn’t even be registered as a citizen of Malaysia. Thirty-one years ago, my father was working for a multinational corporation based in the Sillicon Valley and he brought his young bride along. I suppose I was conceived during this time. I was born in San Jose, California in the United States.
I even have a US birth certificate and a US passport (expired in 1988) to boot. The US recognises dual citizenship so I have no doubt that I am already recognised as a citizen of the US. But because my parents had the foresight to register me at the US Embassy in Washington, DC using Borang W, I became a Malaysian citizen at birth. My father could have made the decision to stay. But he didn’t. He came home to Malaysia with his family in tow.
I grew up in a middle-class family and was for most of my life based in Penang, having been enrolled into a private school (Sekolah Sri Inai). The majority of students were non-Muslim Chinese, I was only one of the very few Muslim students around in the whole school.
Regardless, I had a lot of inter-racial contact and I count a lot of non-Muslims and Muslims alike as among my closest friends during this time period. Back when we were children, the issue of race and religion did not count for much, not even during the 1990s.
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