Tuesday, May 24, 2022

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

The suit will now go for full trial.

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An originating summons filed by civil society and six mothers who are married to foreigners for their overseas-born children to have the right to become Malaysian citizens will go for full trial after the Court of Appeal dismissed the government’s bid to strike out the suit.

Justice Azizah Nawawi, who led a three-member panel, in a unanimous decision said the court found that it could not be said that the amended originating summons was obviously unsustainable as it boiled down to the interpretation of Articles 14 and 8 of the Federal Constitution.

“Therefore, the appeal is dismissed with no order as to costs,” said Azizah, who presided over the appeal with justices Abu Bakar Jais and Mariana Yahya in the proceedings conducted via Zoom.

Article 8 states that all persons are equal before the law and entitled to equal protection, while Article 14 is on citizenship by operation of law.

The government was appealing against the decision by the High Court on May 6, which dismissed an application by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC) to strike out the suit.

The panel made the ruling after hearing submissions from senior federal counsel Ahmad Hanir Hambaly, who appeared for the government as an appellant, and Gurdial Singh Nijar, representing the respondents.

The proper hearing of the suit has been set for Aug 24 before High Court judge Akhtar Tahir.

On April 27 this year, the government through the AGC 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.

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 sought 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.

They are also seeking, among others, 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.

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