Friday, January 21, 2022

Court brings forward govt’s stay hearing in equal citizenship case

It was originally scheduled to be heard on March 18 next year but will now be heard on Dec 22.

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The Court of Appeal will hear on Dec 22 the government’s application to stay a High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers who are married to foreigners are entitled to citizenship, pending the disposal of an appeal.

A three-member bench comprising Yaacob Md Sam, S Nantha Balan and Nordin Hassan brought forward the hearing date of the stay application from March 18 next year to Dec 22.

Yaacob, who led the bench, told parties in the case that the court would not make any orders pertaining to the government’s application for an interim stay order pending the hearing of its stay application.

The court was supposed to hear the interim stay application by the government, home minister and National Registration Department (JPN) director-general to preserve the status quo pending the hearing of their stay application which was initially fixed for March next year.

The appellants filed a stay application pending the hearing of their appeal against the High Court’s decision declaring that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers who are married to foreigners are entitled by operation of law to be Malaysian citizens.

The Court of Appeal had fixed March 23 next year to hear the appellants’ appeal against the High Court’s decision. The Court of Appeal will hear the appeal together with another citizenship case involving a woman born overseas to a Malaysian mother.

On Sept 9 this year, a High Court allowed a legal suit brought by the Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and six Malaysian women who are married to foreigners.

In their originating summons, 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 also sought, among others, a court order for all relevant government agencies, including JPN, immigration department and Malaysian embassies, to issue documents relating to citizenship including passports and identity cards to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses.

Earlier, in today’s proceedings conducted online, senior federal counsel Liew Horng Bing, appearing for the appellants, told the court that in a letter, the mothers had asked the appellants to comply with the High Court order.

He said he received strict instruction to proceed with the appeal because the questions of law involved more than the issues of citizenship.

He also told the court that the appellants could not agree with the proposed terms set out by the mothers, adding that their appeal would be rendered academic if they complied with the mothers’ requests.

Lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar, representing the association and the women, said they wanted to wait for the government to carry out the process to grant citizenship for the children, but pointed out that the government could not agree with certain terms made by them.

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