KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 — Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching today challenged the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) to amend the Federal Constitution to confer automatic citizenship to overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers.

The federal Opposition lawmaker accused her Umno counterpart Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi of offering to do so as election bait to get votes for the BN in upcoming national polls.

“I see no reason why amendments to the Federal Constitution, vis a vis the change for mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children born overseas cannot be put into the next Parliamentary meeting.

“Not only that, to reinforce how important this is in the name of putting forward justice and retribution to all Malaysian mothers, I call for this item to be the first on the agenda when Parliament reconvenes on October 26,” she said in a statement.

She added that if Zahid were serious and sincere, the Umno president could even instruct Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is also the party vice-president, to call for a special parliamentary sitting to amend the constitution clause on citizenship right away.

“Being the president of Umno, if Ahmad Zahid and Umno are serious about the reform, Ahmad Zahid does not need to ‘whisper’ to the prime minister, who is also his vice president in Umno, as if it is some sort of secret,” Teo said.

She said Zahid could have “outrightly intervened when the government opposed the High Court’s ruling in favour of the mothers in the first place”.

“Zahid speaks as if he and Umno are in opposition, and he has no control and no influence over the government in which Umno not only holds the position of Prime Minister but also 11 ministers,” she added.

Zahid reportedly made the promise on August 14 at BN’s convention, after the Court of Appeal on August 5 sided with the government in finding that children born to Malaysian mothers overseas can be denied Malaysian citizenship.

He was reported to have done so after the coalition’s women’s wing appealed for the government to amend the Federal Constitution to address the matter.