Yesterday (9 September), the Kuala Lumpur High Court has ruled that Malaysian mothers now have the right to grant citizenship to their children born overseas, on equal basis to Malaysian men.
According to BFM, Judge Akhtar Tahir said the word “father” in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must also include mothers.
Hence, Article 14(1)(b) of the federal constitution together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b), pertaining to citizenship rights, must be read in harmony with Article 8(2) of the federal constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Previously, Malaysian mothers could not confer citizenship to their children born overseas because the Malaysian government said it would ‘threaten national security’.
The Former Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said once claimed that decision was made in order to avoid possible issues of dual citizenship among children born overseas to foreign fathers.
Meanwhile, Judge Akhtar said “The grievances of the plaintiffs are real… The discrimination is apparent.”
Part II, Section 1(b) states “every person born outside the Federation whose father is at the time of birth a citizen and either was born in the Federation or is at the time of birth in the service of the Federation or of a State”, is by operation of the law a citizen of Malaysia.
Judge Akhtar said the decision made is not seeking a change in policy, but rather applying existing laws to find a remedy for the plaintiff while upholding the spirit of the constitution.
At the same time, lawyer Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar said the decision fulfills the intention of the Parliament as they amended the Article 8 in 2001 to guarantee that there will be no discrimination against women.
The President of Family Frontiers, Suri Kempe said they appreciate the court’s ruling and express their huge relief for affected mothers because this judgment applies not just to the mothers directly involved in the case as plaintiffs, but to all Malaysian mothers who are similarly affected.
“We are so thankful for this outcome. This is a huge relief for affected mothers because this judgment applies not just to the mothers directly involved in the case as plaintiffs, but to all Malaysian mothers who are similarly affected.”
“This judgement recognises Malaysian women’s equality, and marks one step forward to a more egalitarian and just Malaysia.” she said.
On 18 December last year, Family Frontiers and 6 mothers filed an originating summons at the high court, naming the Malaysian government, home minister and National Registration Department as defendants.
The government had attempted to strike out the case but the High Court had rejected the application, prompting the government to bring the case to the Court of Appeal.
However, the High Court ruled for the case to continue.
That’s a big win for Malaysian mothers!
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