Allan Zeman

Judge turns down citizenship bid

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 December, 2008, 12:00am

The son of businessman Ranjan Marwah, a founder of the Mother's Choice charity for pregnant teenagers, yesterday lost his bid to win Chinese citizenship.

Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung ruled that Azan Aziz Marwah's petition was a lost cause, in a case that raised questions about who could become a Chinese national.

Not only did the 25-year-old fail to prove he automatically qualified as a Chinese national, but the Hong Kong-born Mr Marwah was already a US citizen, which disqualified him since the mainland did not recognise dual nationality, the Court of First Instance judge ruled. Mr Marwah's mother was a US citizen.

'There is no indication whatsoever that the applicant is prepared to renounce his US citizenship in order to have Chinese nationality,' Mr Justice Cheung wrote in his decision.

Mr Marwah had argued that he was automatically entitled to a Hong Kong passport - and Chinese nationality - because his Indian father was naturalised as a Chinese citizen five years ago.

The Director of Immigration rejected Mr Marwah's claim and argued that he would qualify for automatic citizenship only if one or both of his parents were Chinese nationals when he was born.

Mr Marwah could still apply to become a Chinese national, as his father had done, Mr Justice Cheung noted.

Entrepreneur Allan Zeman recently became a Chinese national after he renounced his Canadian citizenship.

The dispute between Mr Marwah and the Immigration Department centred on wording in mainland law that said a person was Chinese if he or she was born in China, including Hong Kong, and had at least one parent who was a Chinese national.

That law did not address whether nationality was conferred only at birth, the ruling said, but 'the correct approach must be to examine the provisions in the light of their purpose and context'.

Otherwise, any person born to a parent who later became a Chinese citizen could argue that he or she should automatically be deemed Chinese, the judge said.