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KUCHING, Sept 14: Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) has called on the Attorney General’s Chamber (AGC) and Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin to explain their decision to appeal against the recent High Court ruling granting automatic citizenship to children born to Malaysian mothers and foreign fathers.
Stunned with the federal government’s decision to file the appeal today, SWWS described the move as both “heartbreaking and baffling” as the ruling had been lauded by Malaysians including Sarawakians and various quarters across the country.
“The public needs to know on what grounds the government thinks that Article 8 of the Federal Constitution, which gives women protection against such blatant gender discrimination, can be ignored.
“The (High) Court held that the Constitution should be read in harmony to end such discrimination. A view which was warmly received by de facto Law Minister (Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar), many prominent politicians and Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) children’s commissioner as well as many women who are directly affected,” SWWS hit back in a statement today.
SWWS expressed its bafflement as to why the AGC and Home Affairs Minister would want to spend taxpayers’ money to take this matter to the Appeal Court.
“If they lose there as well, do they intend to take it all the way to the Federal Court of Appeal too? If so, time and money will be spent while children wait and suffer.
“For some Malaysian women affected, their marriages did not work out and they need their children fully accepted back in Malaysia. Others have to explain to their children why one child can have an IC and another cannot. Not accepting the court’s ruling affects these children’s future in so many ways including access to education and health,” SWWS emphasised.
SWWS thus urged the federal government to reconsider this ‘unpopular’ decision and withdraw its appeal promptly.
It warned that there is growing anger amongst women that they are being treated as second class citizens despite Malaysia being a signatory to the United Nations (UN) Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination of Women (Cedaw).
Malaysia, SWWS reminded, is also a signatory to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) of which the country’s progress is in the process of being reviewed.
“It is hard to see how the government will defend their decision as being in the best of interests of children during the review.
“For all these reasons SWWS hopes the government will reconsider,” it concluded.
SWWS has also organised a petition campaign, with a link on their Facebook page, to urge the government to withdraw its appeal against the ruling on citizenship rights of Malaysian mothers.
In a landmark ruling on Sept 9, the High Court ruled that Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses could automatically pass on their citizenship to their children born outside Malaysia.
The Court ruled that Article 4(1)(b) of the Federal Constitution together with the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b), pertaining to citizenship rights, must be read in harmony with Article 8(2), which prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender.
High Court judge Akhtar Tahir ruled the word ‘father’ must therefore be read to include mothers, and that their children are entitled to citizenship by operation of law. — DayakDaily