PETALING JAYA: An NGO and an MP have called on the government to withdraw its notice of appeal against the High Court decision that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers are entitled to citizenship by operation of law.
Family Frontiers said the appeal should be withdrawn to ensure that injustice against Malaysian women was not perpetuated.
Separately, Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh said the issue would be a big test for the “Malaysian Family” concept espoused by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
In a statement, Family Frontiers called on Malaysians, both in the country and abroad, to sign a petition calling on the government to withdraw its appeal, which went against women’s rights on citizenship matters.
“We are appalled and deeply disappointed by the government’s move to appeal against the Kuala Lumpur High Court decision that affirmed Malaysian women’s right to confer citizenship automatically on their children born overseas on an equal basis with Malaysian men,” it said.
Yesterday, Attorney-General Idrus Harun said in a text message to FMT the notice of appeal had been filed in the morning.
He said three federal ministers, including law minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, had openly supported the decision.
Family Frontiers said the government had an opportunity to “embrace the High Court’s decision and move the needle towards greater justice and equality for its women citizens”.
“Instead, the government has chosen to perpetuate this gross injustice that has plagued Malaysia since independence, the weight of which Malaysian women have borne for 64 long years.”
By appealing against the court decision, it said, justice had been delayed not just to Malaysian women, but their children and their extended families as well.
It said the government’s action sent “a clear message that they are in favour of the continued discrimination and marginalisation of Malaysian mothers”.
In a separate statement, Yeoh noted that women, family and community development minister Rina Harun had welcomed the court decision, describing it as a “new ray of hope for Malaysian women”.
The former deputy women, family and community development minister said Rina had also commented that the decision reflected the Perikatan Nasional government’s commitment to creating equality for women.
“As the attorney-general’s action clearly contradicted that public statement by the women minister, one cannot help but wonder if this is a double-minded government or is it just another case of the women minister being clueless about her responsibility to champion equality for women?” she said.
Yeoh urged Ismail to instruct the attorney-general to withdraw the appeal, and the home ministry to respect and implement the High Court’s decision.
“This episode alone has shown so many inconsistencies within his Cabinet, but the most glaring weakness is the failure of this government to protect women and children.
“His Malaysian Family concept is being tested and torn apart by this nonsensical and cruel decision of the attorney-general to cause hardship and heartache to these mothers and their families.
“This is Ismail’s 100 days’ test to show that he can tame his multi-headed government and bring relief to these suffering mothers and their children,” she said.
On Sept 9, High Court judge Akhtar Tahir held that the word “father” in the Second Schedule of the Federal Constitution must mean and include mothers.
He held that mothers were entitled to confer citizenship by operation of law in all processes, just like fathers.