KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Rights advocates Family Frontiers has questioned Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin’s statement that Malaysian mothers cannot automatically confer their nationality on their children as Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship.
In a statement today, the group once again called on the government to withdraw its appeal against the September 9 High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship.
The government filed its appeal on September 14. “Children born abroad to a Malaysian man married to a foreign spouse are also open to receiving dual citizenship,” it said in a statement today.
Family Frontiers is one of the plaintiffs, alongside six Malaysian women, in the landmark case that was filed in December last year and was presided over by High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir.
“Currently, 170 countries give women the right to confer citizenship to their children on an equal basis as men. In some cases, children whose parents are both Malaysian but are born abroad also may receive dual citizenship from the country they are born in.
“The threat of dual citizenship is clearly not a criteria applied to Malaysian men. Why should Malaysian women be treated any differently?” it said. Family Frontiers lamented that due to the distinction, children of Malaysian women have been rendered stateless, and as a result, have less access to fundamental rights such as education, healthcare and national identity.
“Women are required to apply for citizenship for their children through a registration process as per Article 15(2) for which the success rate is 1.64 per cent, based on statistics obtained from the Parliament Hansard regarding applications between 2013-2018.,
“The ‘case-by-case’ assessment of applications is arbitrary, inconsistent, not transparent, and takes anywhere between seven to 20 years, without any guarantee of success,” it said. Hamzah had addressed prohibitions against children born to Malaysian mothers in a September 15 parliamentary reply to Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip, who asked why citizenship applications for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution were routinely rejected by the ministry. Article 15(2) allows for the federal government to confer citizenship to anyone under the age of 21 who at least has one parent who is a Malaysian citizen (or was at death), upon application made to the federal government by his or her parent or guardian.