Cabinet Agrees To Enable Automatic Citizenship For Overseas-Born Children To Malaysian Mothers
Part of the proposed amendments in the Federal Constitution is to amend the sentence “whose father” to “at least one of the parents” so that Malaysian mothers can also confer automatic Malaysian citizenship to their overseas-born children.
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The Cabinet has agreed to amend the Federal Constitution to enable children born abroad to Malaysian mothers to gain automatic Malaysian citizenship.
The announcement was made by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said in a joint statement dated 17 February.
They expect the amendment to be tabled in the current Dewan Rakyat sitting, Malay Mail reported.
The proposed amendments in the Federal Constitution particularly highlight Section 1(1)(d) and Section 1(1)(e) of Part I in the Second Schedule, and Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) in Part II of the same schedule.
Part of the proposal is to have the sentence “whose father” in Part I and Part II of the Second Schedule be changed to “at least one of the parents” to automatically enable Malaysian mothers to confer Malaysian citizenship to their overseas-born children.
The Federal Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2023 will next be expected to be tabled in this Parliament meeting after fulfilling legal requirements.
The other amendments concerning citizenship laws, especially Part III of the Federal Constitution, would undergo a more detailed study by a committee formed under the Home Ministry and presented to the Cabinet after the amendment proposal is finalised by taking into account engagement with all stakeholders.
The decision is in line with the unity government’s commitment to recognising equality for women and men to remove discrimination against women in Malaysia, and overcome weaknesses that arise in citizenship provisions.
It also helps to solve the high backlog of cases for affected Malaysian women who have to go through the arduously long and unreasonable process to apply for their children’s citizenship and to provide a clear definition and avoid providing a definition that’s different from the court’s.
The effect of today’s decision is that children born overseas before or after Malaysia Day where at least one of their parents is a Malaysian has the right to be citizens by operation of law according to Article 14(1) of the Federal Constitution.Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Institutional Reform) Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said in a joint statement.
A Malaysian mother’s battle
The current Federal Constitution only provides automatic citizenship for children born abroad to Malaysian fathers, while Malaysian mothers are required to apply for their overseas-born children to be registered as Malaysian citizens with no guarantees of success.
Thousands of Malaysian mothers have waited for several years to get a reply from the government regarding their applications, only to receive news of rejection without being given any reason.
READ MORE: 2,257 Days After Application, Malaysian Mother Still Waiting For Daughter’s Citizenship, NRD Sitting On Court Orders
Six Malaysian mothers and an advocacy group Family Frontiers launched a legal challenge against the discrimination against women in the current citizenship laws in the Federal Constitution on 18 December 2020.
On 9 September 2021, the Malaysian mothers and Family Frontiers won at the High Court which ruled that their overseas-born children are entitled to Malaysian citizenship.
READ MORE: KL High Court Rules Malaysian Mothers Can Now Confer Citizenship To Children Born Abroad
However, the Malaysian government won its appeal in a 2-1 decision on 5 August 2022 at the Court of Appeal.
On 14 December 2022, the Federal Court allowed the Malaysian mothers and Family Frontiers to have their appeal heard.
READ MORE: Malaysian Mothers Cannot Pass Citizenship To Overseas-Born Children, Court Of Appeal Ruled
READ MORE: Malaysian Women’s Rights “Betrayed” By Government’s Appeal Against Child Citizenship Suit
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