Yesterday (3 December) in parliament, Deputy Home Minister Ismail Mohamed Said addressed the issue of Malaysian women who are not able to confer their nationality to their children if they have a foreign spouse and the child is born overseas.
The Kuala Krau MP cited the fact that other countries follow the same procedure of taking after the father’s citizenship, “we must prevent the child from being granted dual-citizenship. If the child has not been granted citizenship from their father, an application can be made under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution for Malaysian citizenship.”
This was said in response to Sekinjang MP, YB Hajah Natrah Binti Ismail asking the question on the government’s implementation of equal nationality rights for Malaysian women.
While the Federal Constitution is clear about citizenship being conferred from Malaysian fathers to their children even if they are born overseas, the same is not guaranteed for Malaysian mothers, who have to undergo a lengthy process of registration with no sure sign that their applications will be approved.
The Deputy Home Minister cited the government’s reason for this as a matter of “ensuring national security and sovereignty”, adding that even though Malaysia acknowledges Article 9(2) on the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, they will maintain their reservations for states to grant women the equal right of conferring their nationalities to their children.
UPDATE: Segambut MP, Hannah Yeoh, has since published a statement in response to the comments made by the Deputy Home Minister.
She said that the law enacted is archaic and discriminates against our very own Malaysian women. “This conservative policy hurts the children of Malaysian women. They should rightfully be Malaysians. It reduces options for Malaysian women seeking divorces, protection, or relief because it assumes that the presence of the father in a happy family setting. The reality is not like that for many Malaysian women.”
“Those who have to leave their union are often stuck between a rock and a hard place because children do not have citizenship in their homeland.”
The MP added that the Home Ministry has to speed up the process of reformation in this area, “especially in the Covid-19 pandemic era because many seeming options for travel as to the place of giving birth were no options, to begin with, due to the shutting of our borders.”
Malaysia is one of the 25 countries globally that still prevent women from conferring their nationality to their children.
What do you guys think about this?