KUALA LUMPUR: Steps will be taken to amend the Federal Constitution to allow Malaysian mothers the right to confer automatic citizenship on their children born outside Malaysia, says Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.
"The ministry is proposing to take the matter up for a new government policy to amend the Constitution to facilitate Malaysian women married to foreign spouses whose children are born abroad," the Home Minister said during his ministerial reply on the Royal Address at the Dewan Rakyat on Wednesday (Sept 22).
However, Hamzah noted that any proposed amendments will first have to get the consent of the Malay Rulers in line with Article159(5) of the Constitution.
On Sept 9, the High Court ruled that citizenship should be automatically granted to babies born abroad by biological mothers who are Malaysian citizens married to foreign-born men.
Hamzah said the ministry has decided to appeal the case but will apply for a stay of execution of the High Court ruling to avoid being in contempt of the order and in conflict with the Constitution.
The High Court decision had come following a legal suit filed by the non-governmental organisation Family Frontiers and six Malaysian women married to foreigners.
On Sept 13, the government filed an appeal against the decision.
The move drew much flak from many parties, not least from the Sultan of Johor, and leaders across the political divide as well as the civil society.
They argued that equal status should be accorded to both Malaysian fathers and mothers married to foreigners with children born outside of the country.