Don’t push forward sexist practices, Batu Kawan MP tells Home Ministry and its deputy minister amid citizenship furore

Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto speaks during a press conference at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Batu Kawan MP Kasthuriraani Patto speaks during a press conference at Parliament in Kuala Lumpur July 14, 2020. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — Batu Kawan MP Kasthuri Patto today chastised Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Mohamed Said for his statement yesterday that Malaysian women cannot confer nationality on their children due to national security as an archaic and discriminatory law.

In a statement today, Kasthuri said the decision — that Malaysian women, unlike Malaysian men, will still not be able to automatically pass on their citizenship to their children who are born of foreign husbands — is sexist.

“In a time and age of great global movements defending and protecting the rights of women and advocating for gender equality, Malaysia, again has fallen into the abyss of patriarchal, sexist and unjust practices as evidently seen in the answer given by the Deputy Home Minister,” she said.

She also questioned if Ismail and the Home Ministry were succumbing to “conservative, radical, chauvinistic views” within the ministry or in the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Kasthuri also reminded that Article 8 of the Federal Constitution specifically disallows the discrimination of Malaysians based on the gender, and states that all people are entitled to equal protection under the law.

“With such obvious provisions in the Federal Constitution to protect, defend and advocate the right of women and children, it is incomprehensible why the Government appears to be blind, deaf, illiterate and insensitive to the plight of Malaysian patriots, mothers who want to see their children who were born overseas to be conferred citizenship status in the shortest time possible as enjoyed by Malaysian fathers.

“I call upon the Deputy Minister not to give in to pressure from any quarters to spearhead and accelerate the awarding of citizenship for children overseas born to Malaysian mothers as how Malaysian fathers are treated,” she said.

Yesterday, Ismail had announced the government’s decision to maintain its reservations to against the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) — which ensures that ensure that women have the same rights as men with regards to citizenship, including in conferring nationality to their children born abroad to foreign spouses.

This decision leaves such Malaysian women to undergo a controversial registration process for their children to be recognised as Malaysian, which rights groups say disproportionately burdens Malaysian mothers.

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