Hamzah to Zahid: Why didn't you address foreign-born children's citizenship issue when you were Home Minister?

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

BAKRI, Nov 13 — Caretaker Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin today questioned Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as to why he did not seek to end the citizenship woes faced by children born to Malaysian mothers abroad when he was home minister, and only now, felt the need to include the matter in Barisan Nasional's (BN) election manifesto.

Speaking to reporters here, Hamzah said that BN was merely copying Perikatan Nasional's (PN) initiatives.

Hamzah also pledged to end the issue for good, should he be re-elected back into Parliament and appointed into Cabinet.

"I thought we have mentioned it in our manifesto. This matter is already in PN's manifesto, and I kept it until we announced the manifesto, and I put it in our manifesto. Zahid Hamidi has been a minister of home affairs for so long. In the last election for example, why can't he put that into their manifesto? It was never there.

"So the issue now, is they would like to copy whatever that we have already done and put in our manifesto. If I win and am still in Cabinet, for example, I want to ensure that this issue will settle and I have been telling everyone about this issue. My hands are tied owing to existing laws under the Federal Constitution. It's not that I do not sympathise with all the problems that have cropped up.

"I do sympathise and that is why I ask that Perikatan include this as an agenda in the manifesto and God willing, I think it has been received very well by everyone until BN too followed suit," he said, adding that he also expects other parties to follow in PN's footsteps.

"This shows that this issue can be settled if everyone is actually together with me to settle this problem," he added.

Last week, BN, in offering its most ambitious election manifesto, pledged to amend the Federal Constitution regarding the citizenship rights of children born abroad by Malaysian women married to foreign nationals.

In his speech, Ahmad Zahid said that "in the name of inclusivity”, BN no longer wanted children born through mixed marriages, or those with different ethnic and religious identities to be denied the right to make Malaysia their home.

On September 9, 2021, the High Court issued a landmark decision that Malaysian mothers’ foreign-born children are entitled to be Malaysian citizens by law, and ordered the Malaysian authorities to issue citizenship documents to these overseas-born children.

Despite calls for it to let the decision stand, the government appealed the matter, leading to the Court of Appeal overturning the ruling in August 5 this year, effectively denying Malaysian women the same right that Malaysian men enjoyed automatically.

The plaintiffs in the case subsequently appealed the matter to the Federal Court, which has set December 14 to hear the application for leave to appeal.