Government urged to respect citizenship ruling, not to appeal

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Selangor executive councillor V Ganabatirau has written a letter of protest to Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob over the move to appeal against the High Court decision that struck out discriminatory treatment of Malaysian mothers with overseas-born children.

The matter falls under the jurisdiction of the Home Affairs Ministry.

Ganabatirau told Malaysiakini that the letter was sent to the prime minister on Sept 17.

“As the exco for socio-economic development, welfare and caring government, the Selangor state government is asking the federal government to respect the decision of the Kuala Lumpur High Court and not to appeal the ruling.

“This is to uphold justice for the women citizens in Malaysia who have been affected all this while from an interpretation of the law that does not reflect equality.

“I also implore the government to start working on a draft action plan and the amendments to the relevant laws to implement the ruling of the court,” he said.

The letter was sent after the government filed an appeal at the Court of Appeal to dismiss the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision on Sept 9 that a constitutional provision, which only granted automatic citizenship to overseas-born children if the father is Malaysian but not if the mother is Malaysian, was discriminatory.

The court ruled that Malaysian mothers and fathers with foreign spouses should be accorded the same benefit.

Aside from the prime minister, Ganabatirau also sent a letter to Home Affairs Minister Hamzah Zainudin, de facto Law Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar and Attorney-General Idrus Harun.

“The excuse given by Hamzah had no basis and was unfair.

“If the excuse of dual citizenship is used to reject the citizenship of children born to Malaysian mothers, can this excuse be used for children born to Malaysian fathers also?

“Isn’t this clearly a form of gender discrimination that contradicts the Federal Constitution?” he asked.

Yesterday, in a rare rebuke, the Sultan of Johor urged Putrajaya to drop its appeal against automatic citizenship for children born abroad

Sultan Ibrahim urged the Federal Government not to appeal the recent High Court ruling that recognises citizenship rights to children born abroad regardless if the Malaysian parent is the father or mother.

This is the first time a monarch has openly spoken about the thorny issue. The Johor ruler said in a statement issued yesterday that all children born to Malaysian parents on foreign soil must be accorded the right to citizenship.

“The sanctity of the court must be upheld. 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 stressed in a statement to the Royal Press Office.

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“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?”

Sultan Ibrahim said the Malaysian government must respect “the spirit of the “Malaysian Family” espoused by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri.

The Attorney General’s Chambers said this week it would appeal against a landmark court ruling that Malaysian mothers whose children are born abroad should be granted automatic Malaysian citizenship.

The move quickly drew condemnation from thousands of mothers. Activists have fuelled a petition drive to try and pressure the AGC to abort the appeal.

Despite the strong public rebuke, Hamzah appeared to have defended the decision, telling Parliament the federal government dual citizenships were prohibited here.

Hamzah also suggested granting the children citizenship cannot be done “arbitrarily.”