Court rejects govt's bid to suspend ruling on citizenship for overseas-born children

16 Nov 2021 10:51am

KUALA LUMPUR - The High Court here today dismissed the Malaysian government’s application to stay its ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers who are married to foreigners are entitled by operation of law to be citizens of Malaysia, pending disposal of an appeal at the Court of Appeal.

Judge Datuk Akhtar Tahir made the ruling after hearing submissions by parties in the proceedings conducted online.

Counsel Datuk Dr Gurdial Singh Nijar, when contacted, said the judge found that the mothers, who were the plaintiffs, have waited long enough and experienced hardship and they could not wait indefinitely for the appeal process to be over as it will prejudice the plaintiffs and cause them continuous hardship.

"Judge Akhtar in his decision ruled that the defendants’ position was contradictory. On one hand, they said that an amendment to the Federal Constitution (FC) to grant mothers this right must be first approved by the Conference of Rulers. This presupposed that the amendment was necessary.

"However, there is no question of an amendment because the court has already decided that the mothers have this right under the FC. Furthermore, if the amendment goes through, there is no question of retracting any documents issued to the mothers as directed by the court,” said Gurdial.

The defendants are the Malaysian government, Home Minister and the National Registration Department (NRD) director-general.

According to Gurdial, the judge also said that if the defendants intended to amend the Federal Constitution in line with the High Court’s decision, they should not put any hurdles in the pathway of the mothers.

He said the court also ordered the government to pay costs of RM5,000.

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Gurdial is representing the plaintiffs namely the Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and six Malaysian women who are married to foreigners, while Senior Federal Counsel Liew Horng Bin appeared for all the defendants.

On Sept 9, Judge Akhtar allowed the plaintiffs’ legal suit, ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners are entitled by operation of law to be citizens of Malaysia.

Following that, the government has appealed against the court’s decision and also filed the stay application.

In the originating summons filed on Dec 18 last year, the plaintiffs seek for their overseas-born children to have the right to become Malaysian citizens and six specific court orders, including a declaration that Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) of the Second Schedule, Part II of the Federal Constitution be read harmoniously with Article 8 (2) to include Malaysian mothers as a condition for children born abroad to be given automatic Malaysian citizenship.

Among other things, they also seek a court order for all relevant government agencies, including the NRD, Immigration Department and Malaysian embassies, to issue all documents relating to citizenship (including passports and identity cards) to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses. - BERNAMA