Political will needed to allow citizenship for children born to M'sian women overseas, says Nurul Izzah

NIBONG TEBAL: There must be political will to allow citizenship to be automatically conferred to children born to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses, says Parti Keadilan Rakyat vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar.

She said the nation's top executive authorities such as the Attorney General and the Home Minister could help to ease the passage for such a proposal to be tabled in Parliament so that it can be made into a law.

She added that such a proposal could only be brought to Parliament if the executive allows it to be brought up as an agenda to be debated.

"We have always been consistent in supporting these rights and we hope it can be made into law.

"However, at the same time, there must be political will to make it a reality," she said at a press conference during a gathering of PKR Wanita at Bandar Cassia here Sunday (Sept 25).

According to the state leadership council (MPN), the party's MPs are part of a bipartisan move to enact such a law but insisted that it can only be made if the executive allows it to be tabled in Dewan Rakyat.

In August, the Court of Appeal held that only children born abroad to Malaysian fathers with foreign spouses are entitled to confer citizenship status on their children born outside Malaysia.

This means Malaysian women who are married to foreign citizens cannot automatically pass on citizenship status to their children born outside Malaysia.

On Sept 15, Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said filed a motion 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 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 MPs, 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 on proposed law is 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 including 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.

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.

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