Easy decision on citizenship law, work done during Perikatan’s time, says former deputy minister Mas Ermieyati

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 — The government of the day had it easy with the decision to update current laws to confer automatic citizenship to the offspring of Malaysian women who give birth overseas, Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin said.

According to the former deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department under Parliament and Law, when she was in office she had met these families and brought them to meet former de facto law minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar who gave his commitment in the matter.

"Prior works were done, studies were done, and the communication with the Palace was also done, the government of the day only had to make a decision.

"What does it mean? Isn’t it easy for the government of the day, they only had to make a decision,” Mas Ermieyati told the Parliament during the debate on the Royal address.

She was referring to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet decision last Friday to update current laws to confer automatic citizenship to the offspring of Malaysian women who give birth overseas drew praise from two groups that have been advocating gender equality and children’s rights.

The decision received commendation from local advocacy group Family Frontiers and the Malaysian chapter of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR Malaysia), which agreed to amend the Federal Constitution so that children born abroad to Malaysian mothers can gain automatic Malaysian citizenship.

"I am also one of the petitioners who have signed the initiative by Family Frontiers, among more than 50,000 Malaysians who wanted equal rights for Malaysian women.

"I hope this matter will be well-discussed as many ministers were involved before, as was our Opposition Leader (Bersatu Larut MP Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin), the former foreign minister, Sembrong (Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein) was also involved,” Mas Ermieyati said.

She also called for existing laws be made more holistic to address citizenship matters in relation to single citizenship.

"Malaysian laws only allow single citizenship and I would like to ask if there are steps the government will take to ensure that the existing laws are complete.

"For example, Ali was born in the UK and will get citizenship. Will there be an amendment done so that Ali can decide when he is 18, otherwise I’m concerned that there are more than 20,000 Malaysian children who have dual citizenship and a lot of problems will arise,” she added.

The proposed amendment to the citizenship laws in the Federal Constitution will require support from two-thirds of lawmakers in Parliament, and would have to go through the process of being voted through in the Dewan Rakyat and Dewan Negara and receiving royal assent and being gazetted before taking effect as law.

The Court of Appeal, in a majority decision on August 5, saw two judges ruling that the overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers cannot automatically be Malaysian citizens.

Wan Junaidi had then said in relation to the constitutional amendments linked to citizenship, it goes beyond the government to the Conference of Rulers and others.