The Sultan of Johor, Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, has thrown his weight behind Malaysian mothers fighting for their right to pass citizenship to children born overseas on an equal basis with Malaysian men
According to a post on the Johor Sultan's official Facebook page yesterday, 18 September, it was stated that Sultan Ibrahim has urged Attorney General (AG) Tan Sri Idrus Harun to abort the government's appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court's 9 September landmark ruling, in which Judge Akhtar Tahir affirmed the right of Malaysian mothers to confer citizenship by operation of law on their children born abroad.
Following the High Court's decision, the Attorney General's Chambers (AGC) — acting for the government — filed a notice of appeal to overturn the ruling at the Court of Appeal on 13 September.
Sultan Ibrahim believes, the Facebook post said, that all children born to Malaysian parents abroad, regardless of the parent being a father or mother, must be accorded the right to citizenship in this country.
"Why discriminate against Malaysian mothers with overseas-born children? This is a basic right of every child, irrespective of whether the Malaysian parent is the father or the mother," he said.
In the post that has since received widespread support from the people, the Johor ruler added that it does not feel right that Malaysian mothers and fathers are "viewed differently" in the eyes of the law
"It doesn’t feel right that Malaysian fathers and mothers are viewed differently in the eyes of the law concerning their child's citizenship. Are Malaysian mothers less Malaysian than Malaysian fathers?"
Taking note of the brain drain of talented and qualified young people in the country, the Johor Sultan said that the government should stop rejecting citizenship rights to deserving individuals.
"Now is the time to embrace, welcome, and nurture them as Malaysians, not to reject and turn them away. Such a policy is fundamentally flawed," Sultan Ibrahim stated.
He said that in the spirit of the "Keluarga Malaysia" (Malaysian Family) espoused by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, AG Idrus and the government should withdraw the appeal immediately.
The government's decision to challenge the High Court ruling is puzzling given that several Cabinet ministers had voiced their approval
In fact, two days after the ruling, Women, Family, and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun had called it a "new ray of hope for Malaysian women" in a Facebook post.
Rina stated that it reflected the government's commitment to creating equality for women and that it will highlight women's development in various aspects that can benefit the "Malaysian Family" agenda.
Two other Cabinet ministers had welcomed the ruling.