Sunday, September 19, 2021

Govt fails to strike out suit over citizenship for children born to Malaysian women overseas

Judge says there is clearly discrimination in Malaysia’s citizenship laws against Malaysian mothers, which the government has to justify in the lawsuit.

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The government today failed in its bid to have the court throw out a lawsuit filed by a civil society and six Malaysian women who are married to foreigners for their children born overseas to have the right to become Malaysian citizens.

High Court judge Akhtar Tahir, in dismissing an application by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to strike out the lawsuit, rejected the government’s argument that the court case was frivolous.

He said there was clearly discrimination in Malaysia’s citizenship laws against Malaysian mothers, which the government has to justify in the lawsuit.

“In this matter before me, there is an apparent discrimination against the mother and father of the child, but there does not seem to be any apparent justification for such a discrimination and the non-justification becomes even more clear and even more glaring if you look at other provisions in the same article for citizenship.

“It is not frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of court process. In short, I’m disallowing this striking out,” he said.

The court set June 30 to hear the originating summons.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec 18 last year by the Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and the six Malaysian women.

They are seeking six specific court orders, including a declaration that Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) of the Second Schedule, Part II of the Federal Constitution be read harmoniously with Article 8 (2) to include Malaysian mothers as a condition for children born abroad to be given automatic Malaysian citizenship.

Among others, they are also seeking a court order for all relevant government agencies, including the National Registration Department, immigration department and Malaysian embassies, to issue all documents relating to citizenship (including passports and identity cards) to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

On April 27, the government applied to strike out the lawsuit, citing several grounds including that the suit, which was filed by way of an originating summons, was scandalous, frivolous and vexatious and an abuse of court process.

Counsel Gurdial Singh Nijar, representing all the plaintiffs, said the court also granted their application to include the home minister and the National Registration Department director-general in their suit.

“We want them to be directly accountable for any decision that might be made by this court. The AGC has been ordered to provide its justification through an affidavit and we will reply accordingly,” he added.

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