The Malaysian government is being criticized by civil society organizations and one among its own Cabinet members for deciding to appeal against a landmark court ruling that equalized the rights of Malaysian mothers and fathers as regards the citizenship of their children who were born overseas.
The government filed a notice of appeal against the supreme court ruling on Monday (Sept 13), curtailing the enjoyment of six Malaysian mothers and many others represented by them who had hoped they might be ready to transmit their citizenship to their overseas-born children with non-Malaysian fathers.
A petition urging the govt to drop the appeal has garnered quite 10,000 signatures in only each day, while de facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Wan Jaafar said he sympathized with the plight of Malaysian mothers which he would mention the interest the cupboard.
In a ruling last Thursday on a legal challenge mounted by the six mothers against the govt, the supreme court said that Malaysia’s citizenship laws need to be read alongside Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits gender discrimination, effectively equalizing the rights of both mothers and fathers en passant on their Malaysian citizenship to their overseas-born children.
For years, Malaysian mothers with non-Malaysian spouses whose children were born overseas have had to use to urge citizenship for his or her children, a process with a really low approval rate of below 2 percent.
Meanwhile, Malaysian fathers with overseas-born children are allowed to automatically expire their citizenship to them.
This is thanks to provisions in Malaysia’s citizenship laws that mention only the proper of fathers to automatically transmit citizenship. No mention is formed of mothers.
Malaysia is one among only 22 countries within the world to retain unequal citizenship laws affecting mothers. it’s also one among only two in South-east Asia, the opposite being Brunei.
Despite a recent change in government, new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has retained Attorney-General Idrus Azizan Harun and residential Minister Hamzah Zainuddin – two key individuals who had previously attempted to throw out the suit by Malaysian mothers by branding the legal challenge as “frivolous”.
The Home Ministry had argued in Parliament last year that the unequal citizenship law was a matter of “national security” aimed toward preventing overseas-born children from gaining double citizenship, supported the idea that children are going to be getting their father’s citizenship.
The government’s appeal came as a “shock” to Family Frontiers, a non-governmental organisation that has pursued lifting the disparity in citizenship laws since 2009. This was especially because the supreme court ruling was also welcomed by two other federal ministers – Communications and Multimedia Minister Annuar Musa and also Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun.
“The government has opted to defend the established order of the injustice that has been in situ since Independence… Malaysian women have borne the injustice for 64 years,” Family Frontiers said during a statement on Monday.
Family Frontiers started a petition against the government’s appeal of the High Court’s ruling on Monday, directed towards Datuk Seri Ismail and other key decision makers within the government – including Datuk Seri Hamzah. As at Wednesday, the petition is on the brink of garnering 15,000 signatures.
Before the legal challenge was initiated, Family Frontiers and affected mothers had attempted to seem for a political solution to the difficulty . However, an amendment to the Federal Constitution requires a two-thirds majority backing, meaning bipartisan cooperation is important to amend the provisions.
Former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh spoke on the difficulty during Pakatan Harapan’s administration, but no meaningful change happened . the house minister during the PH administration was Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who would subsequently lead a mass defection to make the Perikatan Nasional government in early 2020.