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Malaysian mothers married to foreign spouses breathed a sigh of relief last week when the High Court ruled that they could automatically pass citizenship to their children. Yesterday, the government filed to reverse that decision.

More than 5,000 people today signed an online petition urging the government to withdraw its application to repeal the high court ruling, which advocacy group Family Frontiers has condemned as a “betrayal of rights.” 

“The Government had an opportunity to embrace the High Court’s decision, and move the needle towards greater justice and equality for its women citizens,” the group said on Change.org. “Instead, the Government has chosen to perpetuate this gross injustice that has plagued Malaysia since independence, the weight of which Malaysian women have borne for 64 long years.”

On Sep. 9, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that mothers with children born overseas to foreign spouses could automatically confer their citizenship. Previously, only local fathers married to foreign spouses could do this.

Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, who used to be the deputy women, family and community development minister, today expressed her disappointment at the “nonsensical and cruel” decision to repeal the ruling. 

“This episode alone has shown so many inconsistencies within his (the Prime Minister’s) Cabinet but the most glaring weakness is the failure of this Government to protect women and children,” she said in a statement. 

“His one big Malaysian family concept is being tested and torn apart by this nonsensical and cruel decision of the Attorney-General to cause hardship and heartache to these mothers and their families,” she added. 

Yeoh urged Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob to facilitate the withdrawal of the appeal to “bring relief to these suffering mothers and their children.”

Other stories:

Malaysian mothers can pass citizenship to their children, KL court rules

This article, Advocacy group condemns government’s move to repeal citizenship ruling, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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