Govt Wins Appeal To Deny M'sian Mums From Passing Citizenship To Overseas-Born Kids

The Court of Appeal today, 5 August set aside an earlier High Court decision that had ruled that Malaysian mothers could pass citizenship to their children born overseas.

Cover image via Free Malaysia Today

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Earlier today, 5 August, the Court of Appeal (CoA) allowed the government's appeal against an earlier ruling by the High Court that affirmed the right of Malaysian mothers to confer citizenship on their overseas-born children on an equal basis with Malaysian men

The CoA decision, presided by three judges, comes after the Malaysian government on 14 September last year sought to challenge the landmark ruling made by the Kuala Lumpur High Court on 9 September.

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

The High Court judge, in his widely welcomed ruling, said the word "father" in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must, therefore, be read to include mothers, emphasising that the courts are empowered to interpret the law to uphold the spirit of the Federal Constitution and ensure justice.

The three-person bench was chaired by judge Kamaludin Md Said

In a two-to-one majority, the CoA allowed the appeal by the three appellants.

The appellants included the federal government, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), and the National Registration Department (JPN) director-general.

Of the three judges, Kamaludin and Azizah Nawawi made up the majority ruling, while another, S Nantha Balan, delivered the dissenting decision to deny the federal government's appeal.

In their majority decision, the bench said the word "father" in the Second Schedule of Part 11 of the Federal Constitution means the biological father and cannot be extended to include the mother or "parents".

Kamaludin and Azizah added that it was up to Parliament to rewrite the constitution.

Free Malaysia Today reported that, in his sole dissenting decision, Nantha said the present legal status of the mother's bloodline was made to look inferior to the father, adding that Article 14, which allowed children outside the federation to obtain citizenship, was discriminatory as it violated the equality provision.

The court informed that the citizenship applications of Malaysian mothers for their overseas-born kids that are still pending before the JPN, other than those six mothers who are the plaintiffs in the case, will be held back pending disposal of the appeal before the Federal Court.

More to come

In June, SAYS spoke to half a dozen mothers, who shared with us how they feel like they have been deserted by the country they love:

Read our previous coverage of the case here: