Considering that various NGOs have implored the government to not appeal the High Court ruling that Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses have equal rights to citizenship conferment unto their children born overseas, Wanita MCA reiterates our call to the Home Ministry to support the court judgement and not lodge further appeals. Upholding the court’s decision reflects a government that promotes gender equality, as well as adherence with the Federal Constitution which enshrines that there should be no discrimination on grounds of gender.
More than 150 countries across the globe bestow their male and female citizens equal rights on citizenship conferment. However, Malaysia is one of among 25 countries that do not grant this equal right - This, despite Malaysia becoming a signatory of the United Nations’ Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) in 1995, and in 2001, amended Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution to outlaw discrimination on the grounds of gender. Yet until today, if a Malaysian mother delivers a baby to a foreign spouse abroad, unfortunately, their child will be denied and deprived of Malaysian citizenship, while a Malaysian father's child born overseas by their foreign spouse will be granted an automatic citizenship. This gender discrimination is totally unwarranted and unjust.
Now, the Kuala Lumpur High Court has delivered a landmark judgement on Sept 9, whereby any child born to a Malaysian female citizen with a foreign spouse is entitled to citizenship rights. The court declaration is in full compliance with Cedaw and the Federal Constitution.
This prerequisite for citizenship conferment is that the child must not be registered as a citizen of another country. This is because Malaysia does not allow any of its citizens to hold dual nationalities. In fact, not just Malaysia, but 27 other countries including China, Brunei and Myanmar also do not recognise dual citizenship.
This means, if a child chooses to be registered as a citizen of another country after birth, he/she cannot apply for Malaysian citizenship anymore. Additionally, prior to the High Court ruling, Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution stipulates that the citizenship application of a child by a Malaysian mother must be filed within a year after birth, at the nearest Malaysian foreign mission abroad, failing which, the application will be invalid.
A report in Sin Chew Daily indicates a lack of knowledge among many Malaysian women overseas. I hope that with the latest High Court decision, the problem encountered by children of Malaysian mothers with non-Malaysian husbands in obtaining Malaysian citizenship will be resolved, once and for all.
In this regard, Wanita MCA once again implores on KDN to be in tandem with public opinion, be compassionate and empathise with the difficulties a Malaysian mother married to a foreigner, and their children undergo; and kindly accept and support the High Court’s judgement. In addition to not appealing this case, the legislature also must start to amend the relevant laws as early as possible to fully implement this reform.
Let us work for a better tomorrow and a better Malaysia for all.
Wanita MCA is of the position that as Malaysian citizens, men and women must be treated equally and enjoy the same rights, freedoms and choice – These include determining the citizenship of their children regardless where they are born, thereby demonstrating Malaysia as a country that progresses with time and propels gender equality as well as women’s empowerment.
Datuk Heng Seai Kie
Wanita MCA National Chairperson