KUCHING, Sept 28 — Parti Pesaka Bumiputra Bersatu (PBB) women’s wing today called for amendment to be made on archaic laws, including certain provisions in the Federal Constitution which are not gender sensitive so as to eliminate gender discrimination.
“We trust that this will be done,” said Sarawak Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah after chairing the movement committee meeting.
She said the wing welcomes the recent ruling of the Kuala Lumpur High Court on September 9, which allowed Malaysian mothers to confer citizenship to their children who are born abroad.
“Their children born abroad are entitled to Malaysian citizenship by operation of law and are automatically recognised as citizens without the need to make any application.
“We are glad to learn that the High Court in this case made the decision to uphold the principles of justice and fairness towards women and the principles of gender equality,” she stressed.
Fatimah said for decades Malaysian mothers with children born abroad were denied such fundamental rights as a mother’s own ability to confer onto her own children her citizenship.
“Hence, we trust that this decision served as a sweet victory for the women involved.
“As a key player in shaping policies and programs on women in the state and an active advocate for the fair treatment of all women and for gender equality, we also believe that this decision is in line with Malaysia’s commitment enshrined under international conventions such as the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women to uphold gender equality and the principle of non-discrimination against women of which Malaysia is a signatory thereto,” she said.
Assistant Minister of Law, State-Federal Relations and Project Monitoring Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali, in a separate statement, said the movement agrees and supports her recent proposal to update the definition of “natives” in the Federal Constitution.
She said the definition of “natives” in the Constitution does not accurately reflect the numerous different races of the natives in the state.
“Often, apart from the races of Malays, Chinese and Dayaks, the rest of the natives would be conveniently categorised as ‘others’ or ‘lain-lain’.
“This is indeed very concerning,” Sharifah Hasidah stressed.
“We trust that the updating of this definition will give a better picture of who are natives, with all the native races included in the updated definition,” she added.
She said it should result in a much better understanding of the numerous races that comprised the natives of Sarawak, who have distinct culture, tradition and language of their own and these characteristics are what make Sarawak so unique.
Sharifah Hasidah also said the updating of this definition with the guidance of the Council of Customs and Traditions which is the authority on the subject will go some way towards making the Federal Constitution, a more inclusive document.
“As such we sincerely hope that the proposed amendment can be tabled and passed in this Parliamentary session,” she said.