Govt urged to respect ruling on citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian mums and foreign dads

Datuk Heng Seai Kie. -filepic

PETALING JAYA: Wanita MCA has urged the Home Ministry not to file an appeal against the High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and foreign fathers must be automatically conferred citizenship.

Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie said they welcome the decision, noting the judgement is fitting and upholds gender equality, as envisaged by amendments made to Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution which outlaws gender discrimination.

However, as the judgement was made at the High Court, Heng noted there were still avenues to reverse the decision.

“Wanita MCA urges the Home Ministry to respect this verdict, and to not consider filing an appeal on this matter so as to uphold gender equality, the rights of women and to end discrimination against Malaysian mothers.

“By not appealing against the ruling, the Malaysian government will also reflect humanity and compassion. Why punish innocent children further as they could end up stateless?

“Abiding with this judgement will also show that our nation complies with the tenets of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (Cedaw), since Malaysia is a signatory,” she said in a statement on Thursday (Sept 9).

Earlier, in a landmark ruling, the High Court ruled that Malaysian mothers with a foreign spouse can now automatically pass on their citizenship to their children born outside Malaysia.

The Court ruled that Article 4(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), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

High Court judge Akhtar Tahir ruled the word ‘father’ must therefore be read to include mothers, and that their children are entitled to citizenship by operation of law.

Heng also urged the National Registration Department, Immigration Department and all Malaysian Embassies and High Commissions abroad to heed the Court’s finding and to confer the Malaysian citizenship whenever a Malaysian mother registers the birth of her infant or minor child be it in Malaysia or overseas.

Meanwhile, Heng also said legislation must be amended to confer citizenship to any child born overseas, so long as one parent is Malaysian, irrespective of the gender or marital status of the parents.

“We are reminded of the Federal Court 4-3 judgement in May this year, which disappointingly ruled that Article 14 allows discrimination between a legitimate and illegitimate child, and it is also gender biased against the mother.

“The Federal Constitution should be amended to clearly indicate either parent, irrespective of gender or marital status, and where the child is born has the right to confer Malaysian citizenship to his or her offspring,” she said.

She cited a case involving a child born to an unwed Malaysian father and Filipino mother abroad.

In that case, Heng said the court ruled the child did not meet the requisite criteria stipulated pursuant to Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution read together with Section 1(b) of Part II of the Second Schedule and Section 17 of Part III of the Second Schedule to be declared a citizen by operation of law.

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