Give kids born overseas to Malaysian women equal rights to secure Malaysian citizenship, says MCA

PETALING JAYA: The government should amend the Federal Constitution to ensure the children born abroad to Malaysian women are granted equal rights in securing Malaysian citizenship, says Wanita MCA.

Its chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said that the argument put forth by Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin that the court does not hold jurisdiction to hear the originating summons by seven plaintiffs for citizenship appears to ignore and violate Section 5 of the Legitimacy Act 1961.

She also disagreed with Hamzah who had cited the Federal Constitution and said the conferment of automatic citizenship for only the children of Malaysian fathers is not discriminatory.

"Wanita MCA reiterates that Malaysian mothers should be treated equally as Malaysian fathers with the same right, freedom and alternatives bestowed; i.e. to register their children to follow their Malaysian citizenship or the non-Malaysian citizenship of the non-Malaysian father.

"All inequalities in citizenship laws including the Federal Constitution should be addressed. Revising gender-bias legislation will be a positive step towards ensuring the welfare of children and gender equality are safeguarded.

"Besides parental gender, the location of a child’s birth must not affect citizenship conferment by a Malaysian mother unto her child," she said in a statement on Wednesday (June 16).

She asked why should children of Malaysian women born abroad to non-Malaysian fathers be punished through no fault of their own.

"By being deprived of automatic Malaysian citizenship, this disparity in the law will incur forlorn misery.

"The children end up stateless, and denied all kinds of the government welfare, education benefits in government schools, healthcare, economic assistance, community aid, etc," she said.

She added that in the situation of a divorce or loss of spouse, the Malaysian mother would either be stranded taking care of their child in a foreign land despite being Malaysians or face the pile of paperwork required repeatedly by schedule for applications for their child’s permit.

According to existing laws, a child born overseas to a Malaysian father will automatically become a Malaysian citizen at birth according to Article 14 of the Federal Constitution.

On the contrary, a child born abroad to a Malaysian mother does not automatically become a Malaysian citizen but will have to apply for citizenship according to Federal Constitution Article 15(2).

"This legislation seriously imposes gender inequality and discrimination against all Malaysian women citizens who comprise half of the nation’s population.

"Therefore, Wanita MCA urges the government and all related ministries to act and rectify this as soon as possible," said Heng.

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