In rare rebuke, Johor Ruler urges Putrajaya to drop appeal against automatic citizenship for children born abroad

Family Frontiers, which had together with six Malaysian mothers won the lawsuit on Thursday last week, said it was ‘appalling’ that the government had made the move to appeal the court decision. — Picture courtesy of Family Frontiers
Family Frontiers, which had together with six Malaysian mothers won the lawsuit on Thursday last week, said it was ‘appalling’ that the government had made the move to appeal the court decision. — Picture courtesy of Family Frontiers

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — Sultan Ibrahim today urged the Federal Government not to appeal the recent High Court ruling that recognises citizenship rights to children born abroad regardless if the Malaysian parent is the father or mother.

This is the first time a monarch has openly spoken about the thorny issue. The Johor ruler said in a statement issued this evening that all children born to Malaysian parents on foreign soil must be accorded the right to citizenship.

“The sanctity of the court must be upheld. Why discriminate against Malaysian mothers with overseas-born children? This is a basic right of every child, irrespective of whether the Malaysian parent is the father or the mother,” he stressed in a statement to the Royal Press Office.

“It doesn’t feel right that Malaysian fathers and mothers are viewed differently in the eyes of the law concerning their child’s citizenship. Are Malaysian mothers less Malaysian than Malaysian fathers?”

The Attorney General’s Chambers said this week it would appeal against a landmark court ruling that Malaysian mothers whose children are born abroad should be granted automatic Malaysian citizenship.

The High Court in Kuala Lumpur had on September 9 affirmed Malaysian women’s equal rights under the Federal Constitution — which only Malaysian men have been enjoying for decades — to confer citizenship automatically on their children born overseas to foreign spouses.

The move quickly drew condemnation from thousands of mothers. Activists have fuelled a petition drive to try and pressure the AGC to abort the appeal.

Despite the strong public rebuke, Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin appeared to have defended the decision, telling Parliament the federal government dual citizenships were prohibited here.

Hamzah also suggested granting the children citizenship cannot be done “arbitrarily.”

Sultan Ibrahim, in a statement supportive of the call, said the Malaysian government must respect “the spirit of the “Malaysian Family” espoused by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, as he called on the AGC to withdraw the appeal against the court decision immediately.

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