On 11 October, the Minister of Home Affairs, YB Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin had in an interview with RTM TV1 spoke about the challenges and obstacles around the citizenship issue faced by Malaysian mothers.
While the courts had ruled in favour of Malaysian mothers previously, the Malaysian government has filed its appeal on 14 September on that matter.
In the interview, the Home Minister allegedly said that if Malaysian mothers really want their child to have Malaysian citizenship, they should “just come back to Malaysia to give birth”.
In addition, he also said that the responsibility of giving the child the nationality they wished for falls with the parents, and that this is the same for all countries.
Meanwhile, many netizens had called out to the Home Minister for being ignorant of the realities that pregnant Malaysia mothers had to go through overseas.
According to Malay Mail, Family Frontiers, a NGO who are pushes for gender-equal citizenship rights and the welfare of Malaysian binational families said that Malaysian mothers have medical reasons that prevent them from travelling and this includes risky pregnancies, fear of miscarriage and other health-related issues.
“For them, it is a matter of life and death.” they said.
“I tried my best to come back to Malaysia to give birth to my child, but due to pregnancy complications I was not allowed to fly back by two doctors. In my desperation to fly home, I was scheduled to see another doctor for a third opinion. On that morning, my baby was born premature and was placed in the ICU for many weeks. Women should not be told to put our lives and our babies lives at risk just to board planes and fly back to Malaysia to give birth. Our pregnancies should not be trivialised. The Home Minister must do the right thing and stop fighting Malaysian mothers.” said Kavita, a Malaysian mother seeking citizenship for her daughter.
On the other hand, the Covid-19 pandemic has been causing serious issues to Malaysian mothers too, as some were forced to give birth overseas due to the travel restrictions that were in place and the risk of contracting the virus.
“How was I meant to come home to have my baby during the pandemic? I would have been separated from my husband for years if I had made that choice.” a Malaysian mother said.
Meanwhile, there were also many women who have employment commitments directly tied to their duty to serve Malaysia.
“I worked for a Malaysian government-linked company in San Francisco between 2013 and 2018 when I had my child there. I had a high-risk pregnancy and was advised not to travel in my 3rd trimester, so I had my child there. I feel betrayed by the Home Minister’s comments — I served my country at the time of my child’s birth, yet my child is not a citizen and I don’t know what the future holds for her now that we are back in Malaysia.” said Gaithiri, another Malaysian mother seeking citizenship for her daughter.
Nonetheless, Family Frontiers have started the #TarikBalikRayuan hashtag in an effort to urge the Malaysian government to retract their appeal against the KL High Court’s decision and to allow automatic citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers.
Last month, they had took to the streets outside of Parliament to hand over their petition and open letter against the government’s appeal and they stressed that they are Malaysian children too, along with the hashtag #sayaJUGAanakMalaysia.
The movement was supported by MP Hannah Yeoh, MP Kasthuri Patto and MP Maria Chin, and a few other, who have joined in Family Frontier’s fight for gender-equal citizenship laws.
What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!