Govt should justify in court on mothers’ lawsuit seeking citizenship for their overseas-born children, not block it

Malay Mail pix

By S. Harrish

THE Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) has criticised the government’s decision to appeal a recent court decision that dismissed the government’s application to strike out a lawsuit by several mothers over their children citizenships.

The six mothers’ legal action is to have their children born overseas to foreign fathers be automatically entitled to citizenship.

SWWS said the mothers brought their action as, unlike Malaysian men who marry foreign women and have children when living abroad, they do not have the automatic right to pass on their citizenship to their children.

“Women are clearly discriminated against, which is counter to Article 8 (2) of the Federal Constitution which disallows gender discrimination,” SWWS said in a statement today.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court judge made the ruling on May 6 and that the case will continue next month.

“He was very clear that in his view there was discrimination so the Government should proceed by giving justification why the discrimination in these circumstances should be allowed and then he would consider the case on its merits.”

SWWS said it cannot understand why the Federal Government, rather than allowing these important constitutional issues to be considered by the law, wants the case to be dismissed.

“This is not a frivolous issue – it affects children and families lives – and causes great distress and uncertainty.

“Transnational marriage is becoming more common in these global days and there are many reasons why women can be abroad at the time of birth.

“Why should they and their children face discrimination? Had the child been born in Malaysia they would automatically be given Malaysian citizenship as the constitution mentions either parent, not father.”

In SWWS’s view the discussion about how to resolve the disharmony in the Federal Constitution needs to be heard in the courts and not be blocked by labelling women’s concerns over their rights as frivolous.