Azalina: Bill for automatic citizenship of kids born abroad to Malaysian women now set for June

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, March 11 — The federal government is only expected to table in June the proposed amendment to enable foreign-born children of Malaysian mothers to automatically gain citizenship here, Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said has confirmed.

In response to Malay Mail, the minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for law and reforms explained why the proposed constitutional amendments was unlikely to emerge during the current Dewan Rakyat meeting that runs from February 13 to April 4.

For the current meeting, there are four days scheduled for the tabling and debate of government Bills: March 29, March 30, April 3 and April 4.

“The Bill to amend the Constitution is expected to be tabled during the next sitting since there are some issues to be further deliberated, especially the issue of dual citizenship,” she said in a written response to Malay Mail.

“I hope we can make it for the June sitting. A Cabinet committee on the citizenship issue has been formed and is currently deliberating on issues pertaining to citizenship in preparation for the next sitting,” she said, when asked whether the Bill would be tabled in the year’s second meeting from June 12 to June 27 or the third that will go from October 9 to November 30.

All 10 days in the Dewan Rakyat meeting in June are scheduled for the tabling and debate of Bills and other government matters.

Asked whether the Bill is ready to be tabled or still being drafted by the Attorney General’s Chambers, Azalina replied: “The Bill, in both languages, is ready, pending sorting the implementation issues.”

Azalina confirmed that the Conference of Rulers’ consent would be needed for this Bill that proposes to make changes to citizenship provisions in the Federal Constitution.

“Yes, it is needed by virtue of Article 159 of the Federal Constitution. The government will bring it to the Conference of Rulers after finalising solutions on the implementation issues,” she said to Malay Mail.

Based on Azalina’s response, this would mean that the Cabinet committee will be finalising issues related to the Bill such as how the amended citizenship law would be implemented, with the government expected to present the finalised Bill to the Conference of Rulers for consent, before finally tabling the Bill in Parliament once royal consent is obtained.

The Bill will then have to be voted through in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara, and will also have to receive royal assent and be gazetted before the planned amendments to enable automatic citizenship for Malaysian mothers’ overseas-born children can take effect as law.

Azalina and Home Minister Senator Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail in a joint statement dated February 17 announced that the Cabinet had agreed to the proposal to amend the Federal Constitution, in particular 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.

This proposed change would enable children born overseas to Malaysian mothers to automatically be Malaysian citizens instead of having to go through a lengthy application process with no guarantee of success.

The proposed amendment would also result in Malaysian mothers being able to enjoy the same right — as guaranteed under Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution which disallows gender discrimination — to pass on their citizenship to their children born abroad, which Malaysian fathers currently already possess.

The two ministers had said the proposed amendment would be tabled in Parliament after fulfilling legal requirements.

The two ministers had said other amendments to citizenship laws, especially Part III of the Federal Constitution, would undergo a more detailed study by a committee formed under the Home Ministry and it would be presented to the Cabinet after the amendment proposal is finalised by taking into account engagement with all stakeholders.