There is no need to buy time to amend the constitution to confer Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses the right to give citizenship to their children born overseas
23 September 2021
We refer to statement given by the Home Minister yesterday where he informed the Dewan Rakyat that the government will be proposing an amendment to the Constitution to clearly state that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses would be entitled to citizenship as of right.
LFL welcomes this decision as an amendment to the Constitution would remove any ambiguity on the machinations of Article 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution and finally put this matter to rest.
However, we are dismayed to learn that the government still refuses to withdraw its appeal at the Court of Appeal against the High Court’s ruling (Suriani Kempe & Others v Kerajaan Malaysia & Others) that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers are entitled to citizenship by operation of law. This decision, delivered on September 9th, is in essence the very point of law that the amendment seeks to enforce, and thus there is no reason for the government to continue this appeal.
The excuse given by the government that the appeal is made to ‘buy time’ for the proposed amendment does not make any sense; there is no need for the appeal as the current decision is already in line with the proposed amendment, and said decision has force of law. Instead of appealing, the government should ensure that the National Registration Department complies with the recent ruling whilst the proposed amendment is in the works.
The fact that there was a previous conflicting High Court decision in the Mahisha Suhaila’s case does not in any way prevent the government from following the most recent High Court ruling on the matter. The government could simply just concede to the appeal during the hearing at the Court of Appeal in November. The issue of contempt of court therefore does not arise.
If the government is truly sincere in making the necessary amendments to the Constitution to now give children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spousescitizenship by operation of law, it must withdraw its appeal against the High Court ruling in Suriani Kempe’s case. The decision, which is in line with the amendment sought by the government, would allow the government to enforce the ruling until it is then incorporated in the amendment. There is no need for the appeal to ‘buy time’.
Lawyers for Liberty