KUALA LUMPUR, August 27 — The Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) has urged the government show more political will to do away with the discrimination experienced by mothers seeking citizenship rights for their children born abroad.
Family Frontiers’ president Suriani Kempe said that there has been little indication on a specific timeline or action from the current political leadership in affirming equal Malaysian citizenship rights for women should a constitutional amendment be tabled by the government in Parliament despite recent promises.
“The lack of political will to amend the Federal Constitution to remove the gender discrimination in citizenship rights for Malaysian women means that the struggles of affected Malaysian mothers and their overseas-born children will continue — and we cannot wait indefinitely,” said Suriani in a statement.
On August 26, Family Frontiers and six Malaysian mothers filed for leave to appeal at the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal decision in Government of Malaysia & Ors v Suriani Kempe & Ors.
The Court of Appeal had, in a 2-1 decision on August 5, overturned the landmark High Court judgment that granted Malaysian women equal rights to confer Malaysian citizenship to their overseas-born children.
Family Frontiers had 30 days to file an appeal at the Federal Court, during which time Suraini said she had met with various ministers to resolve the issue through a constitutional amendment.
Suriani said Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar noted that the government will be waiting for the Federal Court’s decision before making any other decisions.
“He also gave no indication that the Government will table an amendment to Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution during the upcoming Parliament sitting.
“Moreover, he said he would prompt for the Special Committee on Amendment of the Federal Constitution in relation to Citizenship Issues to meet, but gave no firm timeline for when it will have its first meeting to study the citizenship issues and provide its recommendations to the Cabinet and Conference of Rulers, as was announced on December 16, 2021,” said Suraini.
Suraini said the government has the power to uphold the rights of half its population by bringing the Federal Constitution into the 21st century.
“They need to honour their statement to abide by its obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC),” added Suraini.
Meanwhile, Family Frontiers lawyer Prof Gurdial Singh Nijar said they will continue to pursue justice at the Federal Court.
“It is tragic that the government with their very much touted concept of Keluarga Malaysia as all-inclusive of citizens and their children, have seemed to cast a very blind eye upon the plight of these children, while the rest of the country has come out in support, some with seething outrage, because the children are being treated in this manner,” he said.