Citizenship issue of children born overseas to M’sian mums will be brought to King’s attention, says Home Minister

PETALING JAYA: The citizenship issue involving children born to Malaysian mothers overseas will be brought to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's attention as soon as possible, says Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin.

Following a Cabinet meeting on Friday (Sept 24), Hamzah said Attorney General Tan Sri Idrus Harun gave a briefing and the Cabinet agreed for Idrus to bring this issue up to the King as soon as possible.

"That is our decision so that we get an understanding between the Conference of Rulers and the Cabinet. After that, we will decide next," he said during a press conference aired live on Facebook.

Hamzah also said that the government will proceed with its appeal against the landmark KL High Court ruling that granted Malaysian women equal rights to confer automatic citizenship on their overseas-born children.

He explained that this was because the government does not want to be in contempt of court.

"The Cabinet decided to proceed with the appeal and apply a stay of execution order over the High Court decision.

"This is to avoid action to be taken against the government for contempt of court, and the government abides by the Federal Constitution at the same time, he said.

Hamzah explained that the Mahisha Sulaiha Abdul Majeed case appeal is set to be heard in November this year after the May 21 High Court ruling in favour of the government.

Hamzah gave another example of the Suriani Kempe case, where the High Court on Sept 9 did not rule in favour of the government.

"After taking into account two different rulings in those two cases, and court proceedings on the Mahisha case is still at the Appeals Court, the Cabinet agreed to proceed with its appeal and application for stay of execution in the High Court decision in the case of Suriani."

In a landmark ruling on Thursday (Sept 9), the High Court ruled that Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses could 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.

An appeal was subsequently filed by the govt on Sept 14 against the Sept 9 landmark ruling, and Hamzah had explained that the appeal was necessary as the government looks into amending the Federal Constitution.

Hamzah had on Wednesday said steps will be taken to amend the Federal Constitution to allow Malaysian mothers the right to confer automatic citizenship on their children born overseas.

Hamzah also noted that any proposed amendments will first have to get consent of the Malay Rulers in line with Article 159(5) of the Federal Constitution.

At present, children born outside the country are entitled to Malaysian citizenship under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, read in line with Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) of Part II of the Federal Constitution's Second Schedule.

Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) currently state that the child's "father" has to be a Malaysian citizen.

MPs from both sides of the divide had voiced out against the matter and several of them had urged the government to drop their appeal, as it was discriminatory against women.

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