KOTA KINABALU: The government is urged to amend the law to include conferring citizenship to adopted children born abroad following the landmark court decision that children born to Malaysian mothers abroad have the right to citizenship.
MCA deputy secretary-general Dr Pamela Yong, who hailed the decision as affirming Malaysian women’s status and rights as being equal to Malaysian men, said it was also time to consider enacting or amending legislation to allow citizenship to be conferred on illegitimate or adopted children born abroad.
She suggested that children who were legally adopted when the married couple were abroad and whose parents underwent a customary wedding or whose nuptials had not been officially solemnised be included in the amended legislation.
She said permission should be given when the non-Malaysian partner abandoned their child with the Malaysian parent residing abroad.
“The condition remains that at least one parent must be Malaysian, irrespective of gender or marital status,” she said.
Dr Yong, who is Sabah Wanita MCA chief, noted that the High Court ruling only applied to couples who were legally married.
“As the verdict does not apply to unwed couples, the child is deemed illegitimate.
“Therefore, legislation must be amended or enacted to cover these categories of innocent children caught in a limbo who may end up stateless,” she said.
In Kuching, state Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Minister Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah said the ruling would enable children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and foreign fathers to have a brighter future.
“I can feel the bitterness and stress of the affected mothers and children due to the long time taken to obtain citizenship.
“During the waiting period, the children face many difficulties, such as obtaining access to education and government health facilities enjoyed by Malaysian children.
“Even if they can access these education and health facilities, they will have to pay higher fees as non-Malaysians,” she said in a statement yesterday.
Fatimah said this would affect the children’s well-being and their future due to missed opportunities.
“How heartbreaking it is for Malaysian mothers to see their children being deprived of opportunities and facilities enjoyed by other Malaysian children,” she added.
On Thursday, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that Malaysian women married to foreign spouses had the same right as Malaysian men with foreign wives to confer Malaysian citizenship by operation of law on their overseas-born children.
The decision came following a lawsuit by rights group Family Frontiers and six Malaysian mothers married to foreigners for their overseas-born children to have the right to become Malaysian citizens.