Howard Lee, an elected state assemblyman for Pasir Pinji Perak, is in a bit of a pickle lately. He is accused of being unpatriotic to Malaysia for having applied for U.K. citizenship, but which was unsuccessful, 15 years ago. The attack began by a blogger called Lee Sian See, but which was then picked up by The Star here:
Howard denied having acquired U.K. citizenship on his Facebook. But what is damaging is when the correspondence between him and his local MP, Charles Clarke, at Norwich at the time and forum discussions in 2007 about his failed application to naturalise surfaced. It is damaging in the sense that he did try to become U.K. citizen when he was young, having just turned 18 or so, in 2002. And he was upset the application was rejected a year or so later because the U.K. Home Office claimed that they did not receive his passport. He appealed, because without a passport to show, his status to remain in the U.K. is thrown into question, let alone applying for citizenship! So he had to come back to Malaysia to get a new passport before he is allowed to enter the U.K. again. When he was in Malaysia, he went to the British High Comm to apply for a settlement visa, equivalent to Indefinite Leave to Remain, as a spouse of his British wife. Mind you this settlement visa is not U.K. citizenship. I believe he re-entered U.K. and reunited with his British wife after having been granted the settlement visa subsequently.
A few years later in 2010, he ran for local council election in Norwich, as a Liberal Democrat, but which he lost narrowly to a Labour candidate. He could run for local council election because Malaysia is one of Commonwealth countries. And as a commonwealth citizen Malaysian can vote in the U.K.’s general election too!
Another few years later, he came back to Malaysia and ran for a state seat in Pasir Pinji Perak with Democratic Action Party (DAP) in Malaysia’s 13th general election in 2013. That was the year I moved back to Malaysia and I voted for him. Nothing suggests to me that he’s not fit as a state assemblyman in Malaysia, having spent many years living in the U.K. In fact I think he’s more qualified than many, with track record running for public service in the U.K., with good command of Bahasa Malaysia, and above all else he seems to me a person with a good heart, from the work he has done so far.
So whoever playing this patriotism to the country issue is basically just trying to make a meal of out of it now that the 14th general election is looming. It is not as though he applied for U.K. citizenship after he was elected in Malaysia. So in no part was he lying to the voters nor when he swore an oath when he took office after he was elected. We the voters, and I am, living within his constituency, will decide who we think best represent us at the state level, on local issues in the coming election. Unless there is proof that he is also a U.K. citizen then he, by Malaysian law, cannot also be a Malaysian and hence cannot run for public office. Until then, the detractors can make all the noise they like, he will remain our representative. And I believe a fine and committed man like Howard Lee will be elected for another term, and continue to serve his fellow Malaysians. We shall see who has the last laugh LOL