Government can exercise special powers to register minors as citizens to ensure gender equality and prevent discrimination against legally married Malaysian mothers

By Gan Ping Sieu, Co-President of CENBET

Let’s get straight to the point. Children of Malaysians, regardless if the parent is the father or mother, should be accorded the rights to citizenship.

This was affirmed by the High Court in Kuala Lumpur – Malaysian women have equal rights under the Federal Constitution to confer citizenship automatically on their children born overseas to foreign spouses.

As such, we call on the Government to drop its appeal against the High Court’s decision. From the rakyat to royalty, everyone is calling to Government to do the right thing – which in essence is to prevent unequal treatment to children of Malaysian mothers.

Beside the larger issue of gender equality, the current practice discriminates legally married Malaysian mothers on two fronts.

One, children must follow the citizenship of the father if born overseas but otherwise if he or she had been born in Malaysia.

Two, it penalises the married mother’s children in that if the mother had not been married, they would have been born Malaysian (Child follows the citizenship of an unmarried mother).

It is simple really. First, start by dropping the appeal against the High Court’s decision. Secondly, legislate the relevant laws in accordance to the Federal Constitution, using the High Court’s landmark ruling as a guidance.

Thirdly, the Government can exercise its special powers to register children as citizens, in accordance to Article 15A of the Federal Constitution. This process can be carried out in the interim on a case-by-case basis, with due diligence carried out to ensure no dual citizenship and other infringements, while waiting for the relevant laws to be amended and gazetted. No child should be deprived of their rights to citizenship.

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