KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said and four Pakatan Harapan (PH) MPs have each submitted a Private Member’s Bills to the Dewan Rakyat, seeking to give Malaysian women the same rights as men to pass on their citizenship to foreign-born children.
The submission to Dewan Rakyat Secretary Nizam Mydin Bacha Mydin came ahead of next month’s parliamentary meeting.
In her submission sent on September 15, the Pengerang MP outlined the proposed amendment of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution, Clause (1)(b), seeking to insert the word "mother" after “father” and in Clause (1)(c), by inserting after the word father, the words “or mother”.
Azalina was formerly law and human rights advisor to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, but resigned from her post last month.
She is currently chairman of the special select committee on women's affairs, children and social development.
The other MPs who also submitted their Bills are Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh, Lembah Pantai MP Ahmad Fahmi Fadzil, and Lanang MP Alice Lau.
For Malaysian women who marry foreigners, their children born abroad do not automatically become Malaysians as is the case for Malaysian men. They must instead go through a long process of applying for citizenship, which could take years with no promise of success.
On August 5, the Court of Appeal had in a majority decision, decided in favour of the Malaysian government, and set aside the High Court’s September 2021 decision which had been in favour of the six Malaysian mothers and Family Frontiers, the NGO that has been at the forefront of the legal challenge.
On September 9, 2021, the High Court ruled that Malaysian mothers’ overseas-born children are entitled to be Malaysian citizens under the law, and ordered the Malaysian authorities to issue citizenship documents to these overseas-born children.
After the Court of Appeal’s decision which overturned the High Court ruling enabling Malaysian mothers to pass on their citizenship to their overseas-born children, the Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) expressed its disappointment at the legal setback but said the fight for the safety and wellbeing of the children would go on.
On August 26, Family Frontiers and six Malaysian mothers filed for leave to appeal at the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal decision.