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Court allows govt appeal in blow to equal citizenship

A three-man panel delivered its judgment in a 2-1 decision today.

Staff Writers
2 minute read
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The Court of Appeal has overturned a previous High Court ruling allowing automatic citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian women married to foreigners. Photo: Bernama
The Court of Appeal has overturned a previous High Court ruling allowing automatic citizenship for children born overseas to Malaysian women married to foreigners. Photo: Bernama

The Court of Appeal today allowed the government's appeal against a High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian women married to foreigners are entitled to automatic citizenship, in a blow to efforts towards equality in citizenship in this regard.

A three-man panel delivered its judgment in a 2-1 decision today. Justices Kamaludin Md Said and Azizah Nawawi agreed while S Nantha Balan dissented. 

The judges were supposed to deliver their decision regarding two appeals on June 22, but these were reverted for further submissions.

The first appeal involved the Association of Family Support & Welfare Selangor & Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) and six Malaysian women married to foreigners while the other involved a woman born overseas to a Malaysian mother.

In the first case, the government, home ministry and National Registration Department (JPN) director-general appealed against the High Court decision on Sept 9 last year, recognising that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers have the automatic right to be Malaysians.

In the second case, Mahisha Sulaiha, who was born to a Malaysian mother and an Indian national father in India, appealed against the Aug 19, 2020 High Court dismissal of her suit which she filed seeking a declaration that she is entitled to be a Malaysian citizen.

Family Frontiers said in a statement that today's decision meant the fight for the safety and well-being of overseas-born children would continue. 

"This is indeed a setback but we will not be deterred," its president Suriani Kempe added. 

"We will appeal this decision at the Federal Court and continue to hold faith in our justice system.

"We stand firm in the belief that one day, our government will see us, Malaysian women, as we see ourselves – as equal citizens, and that our children have just as much of a right to be Malaysian as the children of Malaysian men." 

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