JUNE 21 — We, the undersigned civil society organisations, are writing with regard to ongoing deliberations within government to amend Part III of the Federal Constitution and its related schedules.

We welcome the government’s efforts to address longstanding issues relating to the citizenship of children born abroad to Malaysian citizen mothers, through amendments to include “mother” in Sections (1)(b) and (1)(c) of Part II of the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution on ‘Citizenship by Operation of Law’. Our common position on this remains consistent, and we have made our position clear to ministers and public officers of various administrations over the years.

However, any bid to include further amendments to citizenship rights under the Constitution in order to address other perceived citizenship-related issues should not be considered without first undertaking holistic and broad-based consultation with all relevant stakeholders. These other issues include attempts to restrict citizenship rights for:

1. children born out of wedlock to Malaysian citizen fathers


2. children adopted by Malaysian parent(s)

3. foundling and abandoned children

4. undocumented children from generational undocumented families/communities.


It is to be noted that we have, at various times, received mixed messages from the government about the scope of the amendments they intend to propose and whether these amendments extend to the disputed issues listed above. It goes without saying that any proposal to restrict or abrogate fundamental liberties and rights, including citizenship rights, ought not to be done in a shroud of secrecy and without due consultation.

While it is understood that preliminary discussions were held with some civil society organisations, it appears that they were not informed of the entirety of the government’s proposal to amend citizenship rights. We are disappointed by this lack of clarity and transparency, given the assurances of open engagement by this new government. Civil society organisations and other relevant stakeholders who speak for the disenfranchised are essential to this process, and they are entitled to contribute their experience and expertise so that any amendments that are made are just, proportional and limited to what is necessary.

Malaysia remains one of 24 countries that have yet to reform the law to enable Malaysian women to obtain citizenship for their overseas born children on an equal basis as Malaysian men. This injustice must be addressed immediately, through the proposed amendments that we have mentioned above. However, no State should offer to make such amendments only in return for curtailing or restricting the citizenship rights and entitlements of another group.

The other matters concerning citizenship rights that are listed in 1-4 above need to be addressed, but should not be a condition attached to granting Malaysian mothers the right to confer citizenship on their overseas-born children. Malaysia remains an outlier, as one of only two countries in the world that does not grant citizenship to children born to men outside of a legal marriage; Barbados being the other. Malaysia also has not implemented its existing provision to protect foundling children despite the landmark Federal Court decision in November 2021 in the case of CCH & Anor v Pendaftar Besar Bagi Kelahiran dan Kematian, Malaysia [2022] 1 MLJ 71 which upheld the rights of foundlings to citizenship under the Federal Constitution.

The UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights recognize that every child has a right to a nationality, and denying this right would be a violation of their fundamental rights. What is needed in the case of these stateless children is a clear and transparent pathway to ensure that they are able to access citizenship so that they are not still stateless in their teens and as young adults.

We therefore call upon the government and in particular the Ministry of Home Affairs to address this situation immediately, by providing full disclosure regarding the extent and implications of the amendments to citizenship rights that it intends to propose, and by holding a holistic and transparent consultation process with all relevant stakeholders. This is a call for transparency and an inclusive approach to ensure that the draft bill reflects the needs and aspirations of all stakeholders, upholds the principles of fairness, equality, and human rights, and promotes a just and inclusive society.




2. ANAK, Sabah

3. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (ABIM)

4. Association of Women Lawyers (AWL)

5. Borneo Komrad

6. Buku Jalanan Chow Kit

7. Cahaya Society

8. CRIB Foundation

9. Development of Human Resources by Rural Areas (DHRRA), Malaysia


11. END CSEC Network

12. Engender Consultancy

13. Geutanyoe Foundation

14. Global Shepherds

15. Justice for Sisters

16. Kemban Kolektif

17. Lawyer Kamek, Sarawak

18. Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)

19. MAJU

20. Make it Right Movement

21. Malaysian Council for Child Welfare

22. North South Initiative

23. Our Journey

24. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (GERAK)

25. Persatuan Ahli Lembaga Pengelola Sekolah sekolah Tamil N. Sembilan

26. Persatuan Anak Istimewa Sarawak (Perais)

27. Persatuan Kebajikan Sokongan Keluarga Selangor & KL (Family Frontiers)

28. Persatuan Pendidikan Dwira Kuching.

29. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita Selangor

30. Pertubuhan Pakatan Kemanusiaan @ The Humanity Alliance Society (T.H.A.S) 31. Pertubuhan Solidaritas

32. Proham

33. Protect and Save the Children

34. PUAK Payong

35. Pusat Komas

36. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)

37. Sarawak OKU Skills Development Association

38. Sarawak Women For Women Society (SWWS)

39. Sisters in Islam (SIS)

40. Society For Equality, Respect and Trust for All Sabah (Serata)

41. Stateless Malaysians Citizenship Movement (SMCM)

42. SUARAM (Suara Rakyat Malaysia)

43. Terabai Kenyalng Heritage Association of Sarawak (TKHAS)

44. Tindak Malaysia

45. Vanguards4Change

46. Voice of the Children

47. WDO Malaysia, PJ Branch

48. Women’s Centre for Change (WCC)

49. Yayasan Chow Kit Individual Activists, Academicians and Legal Fraternity:

1. Ainie Haziqah, Messrs Nurainie Haziqah & Co

2. Aisha Zanariah Abdullah, Aisha Zanariah & Partners

3. Andrew Khoo, Advocate & Solicitor

4. Anita Paul

5. Annou Xavier, Azri, Lee Swee Seng & Co

6. Arun Boon Tiang

7. Azira Aziz, Messrs Azira Aziz

8. Baljinder Kaur

9. Bimbala a/p Didar Singh

10. Chan Yi Bing, Committee

11. Chua Kuan Ching, Messrs Simon Siah, Chua And Chow Advocates

12. Cikgu Rahayu, Children Activist

13. Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS, Consultant Pediatrician

14. Dr. Rodziana Mohamed Razali, USIM

15. Dr Raveedran Marathamuthu, Co-lead

16. Ee Sau Ting

17. Erica Lim

18. Fan Siew Lee, Committee

19. Goh Siu Lin, Family & Child Rights Lawyer

20. Heah Tze Ling

21. Ho Lai Yee

22. Ida Nerina Hussain, Mother

23. Ishwarjeet Kaur A/P Charanjit Singh

24. Janice Tan

25. Jasmine Wong Kah Man, Co-counsel in CCH & Anor v Pendaftar Besar Bagi Kelahiran dan Kematian, Malaysia (2021)

26. Jeannie Low, Play Unlimited

27. Karampreet Kaur A/P Charanjit Singh

28. Kasthuri Krishnan, Advocate & Solicitor, Kasthuri Bashir Shah & Partners

29. Kuan Kin Chong, Lead

30. Kuan Kin Chong, SMCM 31. Lai York May

32. Lawrence Lim Cheng Poh 33. Lee Cheah Cherng

34. Lee Chee Siang

35. Lee Chi Kah

36. Lee Lay Wah, Co-lead

37. Lee Seng Long, Committee

38. Lee Tain Ping

39. Lim Wee Seong, Northern Stateless

40. Loo Ai Ling

41. Maninderjeet Kaur A/P Charanjit Singh

42. Marcia Aaliyah, Committee

43. Mary Shanthi Dairiam, Former UN Cedaw Committee member 44. Nadesh Zakuan

45. Nadiratul Nurul

46. Nurin Shariza binti Abdul Wahab

47. Nurul Akashah, Committee

48. Ooi Ern Tze

49. Premalatha Jegathesan, Committee

50. Prof Noor Aziah Mohd Awal, Commissioner Suhakam

51. Ranee Sreedharan, Messrs Ranee Sree & Associates

52. Rodney Raj Edward

53. Sandra Theravam, Committee

54. Sasikala A/P Rajendran

55. Sharene Kam Guat Mei

56. Sheila Rahman

57. Tan Hooi Lim

58. Tan Kim Hwa

59. Teon Eg

60. Thineswary

61. Toh Cheng See

62. Vanessa, Committee

63. Victor Francis, Committee

64. Voon Sok Ting

65. Wilfred Fernandez

66. Wong Tsai Mei

67. Yuenwah San, Disability Rights Advocate

* This is the personal opinion of the writers or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.