Guan Eng: Govt’s decision to appeal against automatic citizenship for children born abroad contradicts spirit of ‘Malaysian Family’ mooted by PM

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DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today condemned the government’s decision to appeal the recent High Court ruling that recognises citizenship rights to children born abroad. — Bernama pic
DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today condemned the government’s decision to appeal the recent High Court ruling that recognises citizenship rights to children born abroad. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 — DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng today condemned the government’s decision to appeal the recent High Court ruling that recognises citizenship rights to children born abroad regardless if the Malaysian parent is the father or mother.

In a statement today, Lim said there is no reason why children born to Malaysian parents abroad should be discriminated against and not accorded the right to citizenship in this country.

“The High Court had rightly decided that to bar Malaysian mothers with overseas-born children to confer automatic Malaysian citizenship to their children, is wrong.

“This is also unconstitutional gender discrimination contrary to basic human rights as outlined in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” said the former finance minister.

He added that to allow fathers but not mothers when she gives birth to the child, to confer automatic Malaysian citizenship makes a mockery of the ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ or Malaysian Family motto which was set by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob when he took office.

“If the Attorney General refuses to withdraw the appeal against the High Court decision then the Prime Minister should state his stand clearly and unequivocally to the Attorney General to show that he is different from past Prime Ministers,” Lim said.

On September 14 the government filed an appeal just days after the High Court’s ruling on September 9, which said the Federal Constitution’s citizenship provisions should not discriminate against Malaysian mothers and that their children born overseas too could be citizens by operation of law.

The court ruling effectively removed a decades-long inequality that allowed Malaysian fathers with foreign spouses to pass on their citizenship to children born outside of Malaysia but denied the same right to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners.

However, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin later in a statement said that Malaysian mothers cannot automatically confer their nationality on their children as Malaysia does not recognise dual citizenship.

Hamzah was responding to 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.

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