PETALING JAYA: The Federal Constitution should be amended in the next Dewan Rakyat meeting to remove discriminatory practices against Malaysian mothers, says the MCA.
Its spokesman Chan Quin Er said Parliament should consider tabling amendments to read that “either parent” or “either mother or father” or “both mother and father” may confer citizenship to their children born overseas.
"Malaysia remains one of the 25 countries where mothers are denied equal rights as fathers under citizenship laws," she said on Friday (Aug 5).
Earlier in the day, the Court of Appeal ruled in a 2-1 majority decision that the children born overseas to Malaysian women who are married to foreign spouses are not entitled by operation of law to be Malaysian citizens.
The three-member bench chaired by Justice Datuk Kamaludin Md Said made the ruling after allowing the appeal by the government, Home Ministry and National Registration Department (NRD) director-general (appellants).
The majority decision was agreed to by Justice Kamaluddin and Justice Azizah Nawawi, while Justice Datuk S. Nantha Balan dissented.
Chan called for bipartisan support to empower Malaysian mothers and encapsulate the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia to value citizenship, gender equality, freedom and non-discriminatory practices.
She added that MCA wished to pledge full support and solidarity for the six Malaysian mothers and Family Frontiers who intend to file an appeal with the Federal Court, and that its legal team is at their disposal.
Another MCA spokesman Saw Yee Fung said amendments to the Constitution are necessary for all children to enjoy a normal upbringing.
"For the child to enjoy his or her growing years as normal as possible, it is incumbent that changes to legislation be made to enshrine that Malaysian mothers have equal Constitutional rights as Malaysian fathers.
"They are deprived of all citizenship privileges which Malaysian children in Malaysia enjoy and many Malaysians do not realise or take for granted - the first and foremost (being) education in government schools at heavily reduced fees or admission into public hospitals for free," she said.
She added that children will also be left stateless as they will not be able to apply for a blue MyKad, preventing them from seeking and securing employment.
She said the amended Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution in 2001 to prohibit gender discrimination and other laws passed has to be consistent with its provisions.
"Therefore, by incorporating 'gender' as a ground against discrimination, women’s rights will be protected as a fundamental liberty (in the Constitution).
"With this, it is hoped that other laws that currently discriminate against women will be revised in congruence with amending the Constitution," she said.
She called for similar changes in the Law Reform (Marriage and Divorce) Act 1976 and Child’s Act 2001 to safeguard the child’s welfare.