Azalina files motion seeking to amend citizenship law for children born overseas

PETALING JAYA: A motion has been filed by Datuk Seri Azalina Othman for the tabling of a Private Member's Bill in Parliament for a constitutional amendment in relation to the citizenship of children born abroad to Malaysian mothers.

The Pengerang MP, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Women and Children Affairs and Social Development, filed the motion to Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin on Thursday (Sept 15).

The Bill seeks to amend Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution, Clause (1) (b), by inserting the words "or mother" after "father" and by adding the word "or mother" after "father" in Clause (1)(c).

Four other Members of Parliament namely Fuziah Salleh (Pakatan Harapan-Kuantan), Ahmad Fahmi Mohamed Fadzil (PH-Lembah Pantai), Alice Lau (PH-Lanang) and Hannah Yeoh (PH-Segambut) have also submitted similar Bills related to this issue.

A Private Member's Bill is on proposed law submitted by MPs not from the executive branch of government.

On Aug 29, Azalina said 1.86 million Malaysian women are living overseas, citing reasons for citizenship issues as one of the main factors deterring them from coming back to Malaysia.

This figure represents 12% of the total female population of 15.6 million in Malaysia.

"This makes Malaysia the country with the second highest regional rate of women migrating with 57%, second only to Thailand, and above the global average of 48%," she said.

She said the issue of citizenship was not just one of gender inequality.

In September last year, the High Court ruled that Malaysian women have the same right as Malaysian men to confer automatic citizenship on their overseas-born children.

The decision was, however, overturned by the Court of Appeal on Aug 5.

In a majority ruling, the court held that the constitutional provision referred to the biological father and could not be extended to include the mother or parents.

It was up to Parliament, not the court, to rewrite the Constitution, the judges said.

The Dewan Rakyat is set to convene on Oct 3.

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