‘Amend Federal Constitution to end bias against mums’

PETALING JAYA: Amendments to the Federal Constitution should be put in place at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting to remove discriminatory practices against Malaysian mothers, according to MCA.

Spokesperson Chan Quin Er said Parliament should consider tabling amendments to read “either parent” or “either mother or father” or “both mother and father” may confer citizenship to their children born overseas.

“MCA cannot hide our disappointment with the Appellate Court’s decision that mothers with foreign husbands of children born overseas cannot automatically grant citizenship to their newborns.

“With this latest ruling, Malaysia remains one of the 25 countries where Malaysian mothers are denied equal rights as fathers under our citizenship laws,” she said.

She called for bipartisan support to empower Malaysian mothers and encapsulate the spirit of Keluarga Malaysia, which values citizenship, gender equality, freedom, and non-discriminatory practices.

“Nevertheless, we do note that it was a majority decision and not a unanimous judgement whereby the dissenting judge, Datuk S. Nantha Balan, highlighted that, in disallowing Malaysian women from passing citizenship to their infants born abroad, such citizenship laws are discriminatory,” she said.

She added that MCA pledged full support to the six Malaysian mothers and Family Frontiers who intend to file an appeal with the Federal Court and that the party’s legal team is at their disposal.

Another spokesperson, Saw Yee Fung, said amendments to the Constitution are necessary so that children born overseas will enjoy a normal upbringing.

“For a child to enjoy his or her growing years as normally 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 enjoy. Many Malaysians do not realise or take for granted that the foremost education in government schools is given at heavily reduced fees or that admission into public hospitals is free,” she said.

She added that the children would also be stateless as they could not apply for a blue MyKad, thus preventing them from landing a job later in life.

“If the Malaysian mother’s marriage fails and she opts to return to our tanah air (homeland) with her child, the status of the child is as good as stateless.

“Or if her estranged spouse fights for custody, the Malaysian mother is at a disadvantage if the child does not hold a Malaysian citizenship or is stateless,” she said.

She explained that 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 authoritatively protected as a fundamental liberty under this enshrined document.

“It is hoped that other laws that currently discriminate against women will be revised,” she said.

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