The power of two words


ALL that needs to be done is to insert two words – “or mother” – to clause 1(b) and clause 1(c) of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution, and citizenship would be accorded to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to non-Malaysian spouses, “Azalina files motion seeking to amend citizenship law for children born overseas” (The Star, Sept 19; online at https://bit.ly/3eWcg4I).

Pengerang Member of Parliament Datuk Seri Azalina Othman and four Opposition MPs have filed a motion to table a private member’s bill to get it done.

The motion was submitted to Dewan Rakyat secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin on Sept 15, requesting that the bill be tabled at the next Dewan Rakyat sitting on Oct 3.

If amended, the clauses will read as follows:

Part II

[Article 14(1)(b)]

CITIZENSHIP BY OPERATION OF LAW OF PERSONS BORN ON OR AFTER MALAYSIA DAY

1. Subject to the provisions of Part III of this Constitution, the following persons born on or after Malaysia Day are citizens by operation of law, that is to say: ...

(b) every person born outside the Federation whose father or mother is at the time of the birth a citizen and either was born in the Federation or is at the time of the birth in the service of the Federation or of a State; and

(c) every person born outside the Federation whose father or mother is at the time of the birth a citizen and whose birth is, within one year of its occurrence or within such longer period as the Federal Government may in any particular case allow, registered at a consulate of the Federation or, if it occurs in Brunei or in a territory prescribed for this purpose by order of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, registered with the Federal Government.

Since the amendment is related to citizenship, the consent of the Conference of Rulers will be required as stipulated by Article 159(5) of the Federal Constitution. And where consent is required of the Conference of Rulers under the Federal Constitution, the Conference of Rulers is entitled to be first consulted, as Article 38(2) allows the Conference to deliberate on questions of national policy (citizenship may be so considered) and any other matter that it thinks fit.

The private member’s bill has been drafted and submitted with good intentions. But has the Conference of Rulers been consulted?

Be that as it may, the message that the bill sends is clear: the amendments are as simple as inserting two words – “or mother” – to clause 1(b) and clause 1(c) of Part II of the Second Schedule.

It would be a simpler procedure compared to the recent deliberations over the constitutional amendments prohibiting MPs from switching parties.

The government may also adopt this private members bill and then present it to the Conference of Rulers.

HAFIZ HASSAN

Melaka

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