Malaysia's Home Affairs Minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, has categorically denied that Malay language proficiency is a necessary condition for renewing passports. The minister made the clarification during a public address in Tanjung Malim, in response to allegations suggesting otherwise.
Reports had been circulating about a woman and her daughter who allegedly faced mistreatment at a Johor immigration counter because they lacked proficiency in the Malay language. However, Saifuddin defended the immigration officer involved, suggesting that the officer's actions were likely in response to suspicions about the individuals' citizenship status due to their lack of fluency in Bahasa Malaysia. He also emphasized that there had been no recorded instances of passport application rejections on the grounds of insufficient fluency in the national language.
Saifuddin criticized Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) for misrepresenting the facts, stating that the Malay language has never been stipulated as a prerequisite for obtaining a passport. His sentiments were echoed by former Penang Deputy Chief Minister P. Ramasamy, who confirmed that there were no elements in the law or government regulations imposing such a requirement.
Passport Issuance Continues
Despite the controversy, passport issuance in Malaysia remains ongoing. Saifuddin revealed that 2.3 million passports have been issued in the country this year alone. In closing, the Home Minister reiterated that language proficiency has never, and will never, be a condition for passport renewal in Malaysia.