Home Ministry: Malaysian mums can’t automatically confer nationality as country doesn’t recognise dual-citizenships

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Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, July 1, 2021. — Bernama pic
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin speaks at a press conference in Putrajaya, July 1, 2021. — Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 16 — Days after appealing a landmark ruling that finally recognised foreign-born children of Malaysian mothers as citizens, the federal government said dual citizenships were prohibited here while citizenship must also not be given arbitrarily.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin said this in a parliamentary reply yesterday to Merbok MP Nor Azrina Surip, who asked why applications for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution were routinely rejected by the ministry.

“The acquisition of Malaysian citizenship for individuals under 21 years of age born abroad to a mother of a Malaysian citizen with a non-Malaysian father is by registration under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution subject to compliance with the conditions in Part III of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule, Citizenship Rules 1964 including enforced legislation in the issue of marriage registration, legal status of child and immigration regulations.

“In this matter, considerations made towards citizenship applications under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution also took into account the Malaysian government policy of not recognising dual citizenship,” he said in the written reply posted on the Parliament website.

However, Hamzah said each application received by the ministry will be processed thoroughly on a case-by-case basis in ensuring each application fulfilled the conditions stipulated under Part III of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule and any legislations currently enforced.

“Since each citizenship application submitted comes with a different set of supporting documents and information, consideration and assessment would also be done according to the needs, facts and circumstances of the case based on information provided.

“It must be reminded that conditions stipulated under the Federal Constitution does not guarantee an application getting approved but allows for applications to be submitted,” he said.

This follows the recent Malaysian government’s decision to appeal against a landmark court ruling that finally recognised their children born abroad as Malaysian citizens.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had on September 9 affirmed Malaysian women’s equal rights under the Federal Constitution — which only Malaysian men have been enjoying for decades — to confer citizenship automatically on their children born overseas to foreign spouses.

Currently, children born outside of Malaysia are entitled to Malaysian citizenship under the provisions of the Federal Constitution’s Article 14(1)(b) read in line with Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) of Part II of the Federal Constitution’s Second Schedule.

Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) currently state that the child’s “father” has to be a Malaysian citizen.

The High Court judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir on September 9 ruled that the word “father” must be read to include “mother” and that their children are entitled to citizenship by operation of law, and that the citizenship right provisions (Article 14(1)(b), Section 1(b), Section 1(c)) have to be read in harmony with the Federal Constitution’s Article 8(2) which prohibits gender discrimination.

Currently, Malaysian mothers who are married to foreigners have to apply for their children born abroad to have Malaysian citizenship, a process that is said to typically take years before the Malaysian government responds and with no guarantee that the child would become a citizen as the government can reject such applications.

In comparison, Malaysian fathers would be able to confer their citizenship to children who are born abroad, which means they are automatically recognised as citizens and do not have to go through the same arduous and lengthy process of applying for citizenship.

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