Malaysian mothers of children born overseas start citizenship application process after court ruling

JOHOR BARU: After years of rejection, several Malaysian women were finally able to apply for citizenship for their children who were born overseas.

Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) said that three women successfully obtained forms for citizenship documents at the National Registration Department (NRD) headquarters in Putrajaya on Wednesday (Dec 29), as authorised by the High Court.

This was following the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of an application by the government to stay a High Court decision on Dec 22, which ruled children born abroad to Malaysian women with foreign spouses could be given automatic citizenship.

The three women who visited the NRD headquarters were among the plaintiffs named in the case.

Family Frontiers president Suriani Kempe said that the trip to the NRD breathed life into the High Court judgment and confirmed that Malaysian women have an equal right to automatically confer citizenship to their children.

“They (the women) went in and the NRD officers swiftly and efficiently facilitated the process of obtaining their citizenship confirmation certificate, which will be issued within three months.

“Then, their children will finally be recognised as Malaysian citizens, and the mothers can use the citizenship confirmation certificate to obtain their children’s identity cards,” she said in a statement on Facebook.

She added that NRD informed Family Frontiers that they will be issuing instructions to all other NRD offices in the country, as well as Malaysian Embassies and Malaysian High Commissions to facilitate Malaysian mothers on the matter.

She thanked NRD for their help in facilitating the application process under Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution and urged similarly affected mothers to go to the nearest NRD office to obtain a MyKad or MyKid for their children.

In the same statement, Family Frontiers also highlighted the High Court judgment to dismiss the government’s application, even before the appeal proper is heard by the Court of Appeal in March 2022, as respectful of Malaysian women’s status as equal citizens, individuals of equal worth and dignity as men.

“To continue with the appeal makes no logical, moral or economic sense, as it is devoid of compassion and blind to the lived realities of Malaysian women and their children,” it read.

One of the plaintiffs, Adlyn Adam Teoh, said she was relieved over the matter, which had been bothering them for years.

“I am immensely relieved that the court order was followed (by NRD) and I look forward to the department’s processing of the relevant documents for my child’s citizenship.

“This has been long overdue,” she added.

On Dec 18 last year, Kempe and six Malaysian women filed the suit, seeking six specific court orders including a declaration that Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) be read harmoniously with Article 8(2) to include Malaysian mothers as a condition for children born abroad to be given automatic Malaysian citizenship.

They named the government, Home Minister and the NRD director-general as defendants.

The High Court ruled that Malaysian mothers have the same right as Malaysian fathers under the Federal Constitution to pass on citizenship to their overseas-born children.

It also ordered the relevant authorities to issue citizenship documents (including passports and identity cards) to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

However, on Sept 14, the defendants filed an appeal against the High Court’s decision for citizenship documents to be issued to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers.

The next day, the High Court rejected the government's stay application, which led the government to go to the Court of Appeal to apply for a stay of the High Court’s earlier decision.

The Court of Appeal’s unanimous dismissal of the government’s application on Dec 22 means that the government would have to issue citizenship-related documents upon the application for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and their foreign spouse, even before the appeal proper is heard in March next year.

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