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Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir yesterday ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir yesterday ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

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KUCHING, Sept 10 — Sarawak’s Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Early Childhood Development Datuk Sri Fatimah Abdullah today said the High Court’s decision on automatic citizenship conferment will solve many problems faced by the children born abroad to Malaysian mothers.

She said she can feel the bitterness and pressure faced by the mothers and the children who applied to become Malaysian citizens but have waited long.

“During the period of waiting, they (children) have to face numerous difficulties such as getting access to education and government health facilities, just to name a few, which are available to Malaysian children,” Fatimah said in a statement.

“Even if they can access education and health facilities, they have to pay high fees charged to non-Malaysians,” she said.

Fatimah said this will affect not just on the wellbeing, but also on the future of the children because of missed opportunities.

She said it will break the heart of the Malaysian mothers when they see their children being deprived of the opportunities and facilities enjoyed by other Malaysian children.

Fatimah said as a mother herself she welcomed the High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship.

Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir yesterday ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship.

A statement by the Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers) announced the ruling in the case where the government stood as the defendant.

Akhtar ruled that Article 14(1)(b) together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) of the Federal Constitution relating to citizenship rights, must be read in harmony with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution which prohibits gender-based discrimination.

He had ruled that the word “father” must therefore be read to include mothers and that their children are entitled to citizenship by operation of law.

 Section 1(b), Part II of the Second Schedule in the Federal Constitution states that anyone born outside the country whose father is a Malaysian citizen are citizens by default by operation of the law.

 Akhtar’s ruling effectively interprets the title “father” as interchangeable between either parent.

This effectively means Malaysian mothers will, by default, confer their Malaysian citizenship to their children, on an equal basis with what is currently afforded only to Malaysian men, in what could be a landmark decision.

On December 18, 2020, Family Frontiers and six other Malaysian women filed the lawsuit via an originating summons, seeking six specific court orders including declarations that Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) are discriminatory and in violation of the Federal Constitution’s Article 8 which disallows gender discrimination in any law against Malaysian citizens.

They had also sought for a declaration that Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) be read harmoniously with Article 8(2) to include Malaysian mothers as a condition for children born abroad to be given automatic Malaysian citizenship.

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