KUALA LUMPUR: Former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew hailed the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers (with foreign spouses) are eligible for Malaysian citizenship.
The Tawau MP described the landmark decision as a legal victory for Malaysian women who have suffered gender discrimination for decades as their children were denied citizenship.
“We laud this court decision which is long overdue, as justice has now been served. It is a huge relief for Malaysian mothers whose children (born abroad) are affected in terms of access to education and healthcare.
“For Malaysian women, it is a triumph for gender equality for which we have been struggling since the country gained independence from Britain.
“From now on, the Government must support and uphold this principle of gender non-discrimination in granting automatic citizenship to children born to Malaysian mothers abroad,” she said in a statement here, on Saturday.
Liew, who is also Api Api Assemblywoman, urged the Home Ministry to clear its backlog of applications for children’s citizenship submitted by Malaysian mothers many years ago.
“With the High Court ruling, the children concerned should now be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship by operation of law.
“In one particular case from Sabah, the Malaysian mother of the child (born overseas) told me that she submitted her application twice in five years since 2016, but to no avail.
“According to the mother, her daughter, being a non-citizen, could not enjoy the same privileges as Malaysian students in the school where she is studying,” she said.
The High Court had on September 9 ruled that Article 14 (1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b), pertaining to citizenship rights, must be read in harmony with Article 8(2), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Liew stressed that the fundamental principle of equality is already stipulated in Article 8 (1) of the Federal Constitution “whereby all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection of the law”.
Following an amendment in 2001, Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, inter alia, provides that there shall be no discrimination on the basis of gender.
“Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) is discriminatory against women as only ‘father’ is mentioned, without the word ‘mother’. As such, this is inconsistent with Article 8(2) which is a non-discriminatory provision – hence the need for harmonious interpretation of the law,” Liew added.