AGC drafting proposed amendments to federal constitution on citizenship issues

14 Dec 2023 03:53pm
Saifuddin Nasution - BERNAMA
Saifuddin Nasution - BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR - The Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) is drafting proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution regarding the citizenship rights of children born abroad as a result of the marriage of a Malaysian woman to a foreign spouse.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said the amendments were made to amend Article 14(1)(b) to include the word ‘mother’, to enable the child's citizenship to be obtained by force of law.

"Originally (the amendments) were to include one word, namely mother, but on the advice of the Conference of Rulers that there should be an element of control because when we accept a child as a citizen through this amendment, the child is also a citizen according to the nationality of his father and the nationality of his mother, but the Constitution does not recognise dual citizenship.

"So what we have done is to amend the relevant clause including adding another amendment which is also being made by the Attorney General’s Chambers by proposing that at 18, the child can choose one of the citizenships, why 18? For us to be consistent with the Child Act 2001 and the Age of Majority Act 1971,” he said during a question and answer session at the Dewan Negara today.

He said this in his reply to a question from Senator Datuk Seri Zurainah Musa who wanted to know the details of all the proposed amendments to the Federal Constitution related to citizenship rights which had been presented to the Conference of Rulers.

Saifuddin Nasution added that following the advice of the Conference of Rulers, the application of the law is forward-looking and not retrospective.

"The amendment also has a proposal so that its application is for one generation, which means taking the example of Suriani Kempe’s case, her child according to the law, is automatically a citizen but her grandchild will have to apply for citizenship,” he said.

On Dec 14, 2022, Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and six Malaysian mothers obtained leave to proceed with their appeal against a Court of Appeal’s ruling which denied automatic citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

On Aug 5 last year, the Court of Appeal in a 2-1 majority decision overturned a High Court decision which ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses were entitled to automatic Malaysian citizenship.
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On Sept 9, 2021, the High Court delivered a landmark decision pronouncing that Malaysian women should have the same right as Malaysian men, under the Federal Constitution, to pass on citizenship automatically to their children born overseas = BERNAMA