PUTRAJAYA: The Federal Court will hear an appeal by Family Frontiers and six Malaysian mothers against a ruling denying automatic citizenship to children born overseas to Malaysian women and their foreign spouses.
It will also hear the appeal brought by another woman, Mahisha Sulaiha, who also lost her lawsuit for a declaration that she was entitled to be a Malaysian citizen.
This follows the government’s decision not to contest the leave questions proposed by the eight applicants.
In civil cases, litigants must first obtain leave before they can proceed with appeals to the Federal Court.
A three-member bench chaired by Justice Abang Iskandar Abang Hashim, however, fine-tuned the questions which will be deliberated at the appeal proper.
Abang Iskandar, who sat with justices Vernon Ong and Mary Lim, said three questions would apply to both appeals.
The first question involves whether a person born outside the federation to a Malaysian woman is a citizen by operation of law.
Another question requires the apex court to determine whether the term “father” should cease to be read literally and in a discriminatory way following a 2001 amendment to Article 8(2) of the Federal Constitution which prohibits gender discrimination.
The third question which the apex court will consider is whether the prohibition of gender discrimination in Article 8(2) ought also to cover the constitution’s “citizenship” provisions.
On Aug 5, the Court of Appeal, by a majority of 2 to 1, overturned a landmark ruling by the High Court that children born overseas to Malaysian women with foreign spouses were entitled to citizenship.
On the same day, the appeals court also dismissed Mahisha’s appeal from a 2020 High Court decision rejecting her claim for a declaration that she was entitled to citizenship.
Mahisha was born in India to her Malaysian mother and Indian-national father.
Counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar, Abraham Au and Joshua Andran represented Family Frontiers and the six mothers, while Cyrus Das appeared for Mahisha.
Malik Imtiaz Sarwar appeared as amicus curiae for the Malaysian Bar.
Senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly and Liew Horng Bin represented the government, the home minister and the director-general of the national registration department (JPN).
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