SIBU, Aug 8 — The Federal Constitution on Malaysian citizenship should be amended to change the original ‘father’ to ‘either mother or father’ or ‘both mother and father’ of children born overseas in order to dispel the perception of discrimination against women.

Chairman of Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Dudong branch Wong Ching Yong said this in response over the Court of Appeal’s majority decision on August 5 that the overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers cannot automatically be Malaysian citizens.

Expressing his sadness and disappointment over the ruling, he reckoned that one of the most straight forward ways is to amend the constitution so that the definition of ‘father’ will be resolved, as advised by many senior counsels.

“Many senior lawyers have told me that the Parliament should consider amending the Federal Constitution to change the original ‘father’ to ‘either parent’ for equal rights of all Malaysians, regardless of genders,” he said.

“I encourage mothers concerned not to give up and to appeal to the Federal Court on their merits. If mothers need the assistance of experienced lawyers in Kuala Lumpur, I am also happy to recommend them,” he told a press conference during the SUPP Dudong branch’s mobile service walkabout at Farley Food Court here yesterday.

Wong recalled the Kuala Lumpur High Court on September 9, 2021 had made a landmark ruling that children born to Malaysian female citizens and foreign spouses can automatically acquire Malaysian citizenship.

The ruling of the High Court at that time not only recognised the equal rights of Malaysian women, but also made Malaysia a big step towards a society of equal rights for men and women.

Wong further noted that during the online trial, Judge Akhtar Tahir ruled that Malaysian women marrying foreign men should have the same rights as Malaysian men marrying foreign women, that is, their children born overseas can obtain Malaysian citizenship.

The judge noted that the lawsuit is not seeking to change government’s policy, but rather to pass existing laws that provide remedies for plaintiffs’ grievances.

“Articles 8(2), 14(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution, and Articles 1(b) and 1(centre) of the Part II Second Schedule must be read together, and they state that when citizenship is granted, it shall not have any sexism.

“Therefore, in order to convey the equality of rights and interests of men and women, Judge Akhtar Tahir said that the word ‘father’ in Part II Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must include the meaning of ‘mother’.

According to the existing law, overseas-born children of a Malaysian citizen father can automatically acquire Malaysian citizenship in accordance with Article 14 of the Federal Constitution.

However, if the mother is a Malaysian citizen, the overseas-born children will not be automatically granted citizenship, but must apply for citizenship under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution.

“Due to the cumbersome application process and no guarantee of approval, it has always been regarded by Malaysian political parties and society as the heartache of our country’s human rights,” said Wong, who is also deputy secretary of SUPP Central and deputy chairman of Sibu Rural District Council.

The Court of Appeal on August 5 decided in a majority decision that the overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers cannot automatically be Malaysian citizens.

Also present during the SUPP Dudong branch mobile service walkabout was women chief Councillor Kong Yii Tee. — Borneo Post Online