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The advocacy group fighting to give Malaysian mothers the right to confer citizenship to their overseas-born children has clapped back at the home minister for justifying the discriminatory law. 

Responding to Hamzah Zainudin’s framing of Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution as a law that ensures citizenships are conferred systematically while avoiding dual citizenships, Family Frontiers told him off for using that as an excuse to support the one-sided law, which only grants rights to fathers to pass on citizenship to their children. Hamzah made his public remark after the government filed an appeal against the high court ruling extending the same rights to mothers. 

“The issue of dual citizenship cannot be used as an excuse to perpetuate discrimination against women,” the group said in today’s response, two days after Hamzah’s remarks were made.

The group and several other women were the ones who had brought on the challenge that led to the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling. 

In Hamzah’s Tuesday statement, he said: “Malaysian citizenship is the highest award conferred and it is the Federal Government’s exclusive right, which is not offering it [citizenship] arbitrarily.”

“In this matter, considerations on citizenship application under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution also take into account the government’s policy of not recognizing dual citizenship,” he added. 

Considering cases where children of Malaysian parents could still obtain dual citizenship while growing up abroad, the Family Frontiers views Hamzah’s argument as invalid. 

“In some cases, children whose parents are both Malaysians but are born abroad may also receive dual citizenship… The threat of dual citizenship is clearly not a criteria applied to Malaysian men. Why should Malaysian women be treated differently?” the group said today. 

More than 22,000 people have signed an online petition urging the government to withdraw its appeal against the ruling. The government filed the application four days after the ruling came out. 

Other stories:

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

This article, Dual citizenship not an excuse for gender-discriminatory law: Family Frontiers, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.

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