Kuala Lumpur, Sept 16 — Malaysian mothers who are seeking to maintain a High Court’s recognition of their children as Malaysian citizens have found strong support amongst several ministers.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Dato Saifuddin Abdullah, Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Minister Rina Harun, and Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin have voiced their support to the recent landmark High Court decision.
According to Dato Saifuddin, discriminatory practices against women still exist in the Constitution, and he had discussed with several of his cabinet colleagues on abolishing these inequalities.
According to foreign policy analyst Stacy Lim, Malaysia further improves its chances of becoming a United Nations Human Rights Council member if these discriminatory practices are abolished.
Malaysia had last served on the Council in 2013, which is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system, made up of 47 States responsible for the promotion and protection of all human rights around the globe.
According to Rina Harun, the procedures and conditions in applying for citizenship of children born abroad by Malaysian women married to foreigners must be the same as children born abroad of Malaysian men with a non-Malaysian spouse, in line with the principle of gender equality contained in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution.
“Discussions would be held with the Home Ministry in finding the best solution to ensure children’s rights were protected, safeguarded, and guaranteed legal and administrative equality without discrimination” she added.
Rina, who had welcomed the High Court decision, describing it as a “new ray of hope for Malaysian women”, is expected to raise the issue at the next cabinet-level meeting, suggesting for the government to advise the Attorney-General to withdraw the appeal proceedings against the High Court ruling.
Rina further suggested that amendments be made to the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution concerning Article 14 so that the citizenship rights of Malaysian daughters or sons are equitable, in order to better reflect the government’s stand on abolishing gender discrimination.
On Sept 9, the High Court ruled on the automatic granting of citizenship rights to children born abroad by biological mothers who are Malaysian citizens, married to foreign-born men. The judge held that mothers were entitled to confer citizenship by operation of law in all processes, just like fathers.
Currently, Malaysian mothers who are married to foreigners have to apply for their children born abroad to have Malaysian citizenship, a process that typically takes years and with possible repeated rejections.