Government must Uphold High Court Decision on Equal Citizenship Right of Malaysian Mothers

Government must Uphold High Court Decision on Equal Citizenship Right of Malaysian Mothers

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Family Frontiers started this petition to Dato' Sri Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob (Perdana Menteri Malaysia) and

BREAKING: Government failed in Court of Appeal to stay KL High Court judgment

My kid prays every single night for her citizenship as we have been waiting since 2017. I am so thankful that my child can finally obtain Malaysian citizenship and be welcomed into my tanah air so we can return for good with no more fear of separation,” says Li Li, a divorced single mother living alone with her child in Italy. 

On 22 December 2021, the Court of Appeal unanimously dismissed the Government’s application for a stay of execution of the High Court decision. This means that now Malaysian mothers can obtain identity documents (IC) for their overseas-born children, consequently putting an end to these children’s struggles with regards to access to fundamental rights—this includes affordable healthcare and education, and the ability to live with their family without the fear of separation.

The judges agreed with the senior counsel Datuk Gurdial Singh Nijar who emphasised that “we are not dealing with chattel or money, we are dealing with human beings, children” and that “these children are not chattel.” He argued that as the court has made a declaration on 9 September 2021 that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers are vested with the constitutional right to be citizens by ‘operation of law’, they should be allowed to enjoy the 'fruits of the successful High Court judgement and vested right'. As such, their sufferings should not be prolonged any longer. Not even for a day.

The Court of Appeal’s decision has given Malaysian mothers and their children temporary relief from a long-standing problem that has caused them extreme anxiety, distress and trauma. It demonstrates the Court’s recognition of the urgency and importance of children being granted their national identity documents immediately, so that Malaysian families have a chance to be reunited,” said Suri Kempe, the main respondent of the appeal.

Despite its attempts to delay Malaysian mothers and their children the fruits of the successful judgment, they have failed every single time to show special circumstances which warrant these stay applications.

After the Court of Appeal’s dismissal of the Government’s stay application on 22 December, an impacted Malaysian mother living in Johor told Family Frontiers, “Returning home and making Malaysia our permanent home wasn’t the easiest way. But home is home. I have a big file which contains all the important documents that I need for official matters. I will always have it on my visa runs. My child saw that it was in my car this morning. She asked me, ‘are we going to renew my visa again?’ No, my dear, you are getting a MyKid soon. Just like your sister.

We are currently in urgent need of funds to cover Malaysian mothers' initiative for equal citizenship rights. You can join hands with us on this initiative and contribute here. Every little bit helps.

The Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled on 9 September that Malaysian mothers can pass on automatic citizenship to their overseas-born children, on an equal basis as Malaysian fathers.

"I can't wait to tell my daughter that she's Malaysian, just like her brother," said a Malaysian mother.

72 hours later, the Malaysian Government filed an appeal against this decision. Not only that, the Government had filed a total of 3 stay applications to halt its implementation. We see this as a betrayal of the rights that are long overdue to Malaysian women. The Government had an opportunity to embrace the High Court’s decision, and move the needle towards greater justice and equality for its women citizens. Instead, the Government has chosen to perpetuate this gross injustice that has plagued Malaysia since independence, the weight of which Malaysian women have borne for 58 long years.

The Government repeatedly refuses to accept the ruling by the Kuala Lumpur High Court. High Court judge Dato’ Akhtar bin Tahir ruled that the word ‘father’ in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must be read to include ‘mother’ and that their children born overseas are citizens by operation of law.

The Court determined that provisions pertaining to citizenship rights—namely Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution (FC) together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) and 1(c) of the FC—must be read in harmony with Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.

The judgment lifted the anxiety that plagued us with the uncertainty of our children’s status, well-being, and future. It would finally give the children of these Malaysian mothers equal access to basic rights such as education and affordable healthcare, and the ability to remain with their family instead of being torn apart.

By not abiding by the Court of Appeal’s recent order to uphold the High Court decision and issuing relevant identity documents to these children, the Government delays justice to Malaysian women and their children. Justice delayed is justice denied.

We call on Malaysians, both in the country and abroad, to sign this petition calling on the Government to uphold this High Court decision.

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