Malaysian mothers have the right to pass citizenship to their children born overseas, according to a ruling by the Kuala Lumpur High Court
The High Court, in its landmark ruling today, 9 September, affirmed the right of Malaysian mothers to confer citizenship by operation of law on their children born abroad on an equal basis with Malaysian men.
The Court 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 harmony with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
Judge Akhtar Tahir said the word "father" in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must therefore be read to include mothers
He emphasised that the Courts are empowered to interpret the law to uphold the spirit of the Federal Constitution and ensure justice, adding that the case does not seek to change policy but rather apply existing law in a way that will find a remedy for the grievance of the plaintiffs.
"The grievance of the plaintiffs are real... the discrimination is apparent," he said.
The plaintiffs are six mothers and the Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers), and the defendant is the Malaysian government, which sought to get the case struck out.
The High Court ruling has sent a wave of joyous celebration amongst Malaysian mothers, including Family Frontiers president Suri Kempe
One of the mothers elatedly said that she "can't wait" to pass the happy news to her daughter.
"We have been applying for my daughter's citizenship since she was five months old," Myra said.
I am so happy and I cannot wait to tell her that she is also Malaysian, just like her brother.
Suri, while welcoming the decision, expressed gratitude and hope for an equal future for women.
"This is a huge relief for affected mothers because this judgment applies not just to the mothers directly involved in the case as plaintiffs, but to all Malaysian mothers who are similarly affected. This judgement recognises Malaysian women's equality, and marks one step forward to a more egalitarian and just Malaysia," she said.
Earlier, former law minister Azalina Othman had said that it is unfair that citizenship is only for the Malaysian husbands, not the wives: