Malaysian mothers citizenship case: Decision deferred to Aug 5

KUALA LUMPUR: The Court of Appeal has set Aug 5 to deliver its verdict on the appeal by the government seeking to overturn a lower court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners are entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.

Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) president Suriani Kempe said the Court of Appeal decided to defer the verdict to allow more arguments to be heard from both sides, following additional points raised by the government during the hearing on Wednesday (June 22).

"The government submitted additional points to bolster their arguments. So the judges deferred their decision to hear arguments from both sides.

"The decision will now be announced on Aug 5," said Suriani during a press conference at a cafe in Bukit Damansara on Wednesday (June 22), following the hearing that was conducted via Zoom.

On March 23, the Court of Appeal set June 22 to give its verdict on the appeal by the government seeking to overturn a Sept 9 landmark ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners are entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.

Elaborating on the Family Frontiers case, Suriani said all the six mothers have received citizenship documents for their children but stressed that the same rights should be accorded to other Malaysian mothers facing the same predicament.

"As we wait for the Aug 5 judgment, mothers who have not submitted applications on their case should continue to submit their documents to the National Registry Department (NRD) to ensure their children receive citizenship documents.

"We also ask the NRD to continue abiding by the High Court order and issue citizenship documents to Malaysian mothers," said Suriani.

Lawyer Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar, who was representing Family Frontiers, said the government had raised a "startling point" when it argued that anti-gender discriminatory amendments to Article 8(2) of the Constitution in 2001 were "impermissible".

"So, we hope to demolish this contention," he added.

Gurdial also alleged that the NRD has been refusing to issue citizenship documents to other Malaysian mothers, pending the outcome of the current case at the Court of Appeal.

Gurdial said he has written to the Attorney General's Chambers regarding the matter and he hoped to get a response.

"As a concerned citizen of the country, we cannot allow this to persist and we hope the AG will respond to our letter favourably and make the necessary orders against NRD so we can avoid taking action," said Gurdial.

Present during the press conference was also Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, who said it was concerning that over the last few months, only six applications came through.

"We are waiting to go back to Parliament so we can get more data," Yeoh said.

"But, surely, with the NRD budget allocated annually, they can do better and faster than this," added Yeoh.

The Court of Appeal is currently hearing the appeals of two cases, among them, involving the Family Frontiers and six Malaysian women who are married to foreigners.

The second case involves Mahisha Sulaiha Abdul Majeed, who was born in India to a Malaysian mother and Indian national father, is appealing against the High Court's dismissal of her suit on Aug 19, 2020, in which she sought declarations that she was entitled to Malaysian citizenship.

The two cases were in regards to the appeal filed on Sept 14 by the government against the landmark Sept 9 ruling, which recognised that Malaysian citizenship laws have discriminated against women and ruled that Malaysian mothers whose children are born overseas should also be entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.

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