PETALING JAYA: It is vital for Putrajaya to address gender-discriminatory citizenship laws as Malaysia sits on the United Nations Human Rights Council, a family support group said.
“Concrete steps towards resolving gender-discriminatory citizenship laws are critical to Malaysia’s international standing,” Family Frontiers said in welcoming the setting up of a committee to address the rights of Malaysian women to confer citizenship on their overseas-born children.
The group said UN experts had earlier this month denounced Malaysia’s continued resistance against equal citizenship rights for its women.
The UN experts also reminded Malaysia of its international obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
The NGO went on to question the government’s “selective application” when arguing against the equal citizenship rights of Malaysian women.
“Are foreign football players who are accorded Malaysian citizenship exempted from the Federal Constitution provision that prohibits dual citizenship after the age of 21?” it said, alluding to Sri Pahang FC midfielder Lee Tuck, who was granted citizenship recently.
“The government also conveniently ignores the fact that children born overseas to Malaysian fathers and foreign mothers may also hold dual citizenship.”
They added that the same could apply to children born overseas whose parents were both Malaysians, if they were born in countries that followed the “jus soli” principle, where citizenship is based on the place of birth.
The group also called out the government over the issue of children born overseas being denied travel documents by Malaysian diplomatic missions overseas, saying Malaysian women are then forced to obtain their foreign spouse’s citizenship for their children.
“We cannot expect these children to remain undocumented in a foreign country. This situation is in turn used against Malaysian mothers when seeking Malaysian citizenship for their children.”