Heartbreak for mothers waiting years for children’s Malaysian citizenship

Ongoing story of hardship:

Malaysian mothers have waited years to see if the Malaysian government would recognise their children born overseas as citizens.

Unlike Malaysian fathers who can pass on their citizenship almost automatically to their children born overseas to foreigner mothers, Malaysian mothers may only pass on their citizenship automatically to their children if they are born in Malaysia, based on the Federal Constitution.

Could this problem be solved by having the Malaysian mothers fly back to Malaysia just to give birth here?

It is not that easy as some pregnant mothers may not be able to fly for health reasons, or may not even know that their children born abroad would face rejection for their citizenship applications made under Article 15(2) of the Federal Constitution.

The High Court in September 2021 decided in a lawsuit that the Federal Constitution should be interpreted to enable Malaysian mothers to pass on their citizenship to their children born overseas. They would be able to use the same Article 14 provisions that Malaysian men have been using to automatically pass on citizenship to their overseas-born children.

The government has appealed to the Court of Appeal, which decided in December that the High Court’s decision remains effective even while waiting for the appeal to be decided. This allowed Malaysian mothers to start applying under Article 14.

The Court of Appeal was initially due to decide today on the government’s appeal, but it is understood that it will be for further hearing of constitutional issues instead.

There are at least 70 Malaysian mothers who have applied under Article 14, but only the six Malaysian mothers in the lawsuit received a positive response from the National Registration Department (NRD) which recorded their overseas-born children as citizens.

Here’s the experience of some of the Malaysian mothers who spoke to the Malay Mail, when met recently after they went to the NRD in Putrajaya to check on the latest status of their child’s citizenship applications. They were generally told that their latest citizenship application under Article 14 would take six months to process.

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Source: Heartbreak for mothers waiting years for children’s Malaysian citizenship

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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