Rina Harun: Citizenship application procedure for children born abroad should be equal


PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): The Women, Family and Community Development Ministry (KPWKM) is of the view that the procedures and conditions in applying for citizenship of children born abroad by Malaysian women married to foreigners must be the same as children born abroad of Malaysian men with a non-Malaysian spouse.

Its Minister, Datuk Seri Rina Mohd Harun said this was in line with the principle of gender equality contained in Article 8 of the Federal Constitution which states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection under the law.

“KPWKM assures that immediate action will be taken to ensure that these basic principles are translated into existing procedures,” she said in a statement on Wednesday (Sept 15), on the issue of citizenship of children born abroad.

Rina said ongoing discussions would be held with the Home Ministry in finding the best solution to ensure children’s rights were protected, safeguarded, and guaranteed legal and administrative equality without discrimination.

As for the long-term solution, Rina suggested that amendments be made to the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution in relation to Article 14, so that the citizenship rights of Malaysian daughters or sons are equitable.

The High Court on Sept 9 ruled on the automatic granting of citizenship rights to babies born abroad by biological mothers who are Malaysian citizens married to foreign-born men.

High Court Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir, who made the decision in his judgement, said the word “father” in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must mean and include the mother.

In this regard, Rina said the KPWKM had held engagement sessions with the Children’s Commissioner for the Human Rights Commission and non-governmental organiations to get input so that the government could make appropriate decisions without neglecting the rights of women married to foreigners.

She said the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) also outlined several matters related to the issue including Article 2 on the right not to be discriminated against, Article 7 on the right to obtain citizenship, and Article 8 on the right to retain the identity of children including citizenship.

Under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), Article 9 (2) touches on the issue of acquiring citizenship for children born to Malaysian women married to foreign spouses, she also said. – Bernama

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