Your Title

PETALING JAYA: Women’s groups have welcomed the Cabinet decision to grant automatic citizenship to overseas-born children of Malaysian women.

Family Frontiers lead coordinator Bina Ramanand said her organisation and the Malaysian Mothers Network welcomed the decision to amend the Federal Constitution to allow overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers to gain automatic citizenship.

She said the decision was a significant step forward in recognising the rights of Malaysian women and their overseas-born children, who have faced numerous challenges in the past.

“We commend the government for its commitment to addressing this long-standing issue and for fulfilling its election promise. Malaysian mothers eagerly anticipate the amendment to the Constitution, which will enable their children to obtain citizenship and be truly recognised as Anak Bangsa Malaysia.”

She added that the Cabinet decision was a monumental step towards gender equality and was also in the best interests of the affected children.

Bina said Malaysian mothers have faced family separation, obstacles in accessing long-term residence for their children, education, healthcare and social services at affordable rates.

She said they have also been trapped in abusive marriages, with fear of losing custody of their children, adding that the children have been rendered stateless, forcing families to separate due to bureaucratic challenges.

“Therefore, it is imperative that the amendment to the Constitution is implemented as soon as possible.

“The Foreign Spouses Support Group has been receiving cases since 2015, and it is apparent that approvals for citizenship applications under Article 15(2) are an arbitrary process, fraught with delays, repeated rejections and inconsistencies. Women and children’s groups have been advocating equal citizenship rights since the 1980s.”

She said the NGOs that have been spearheading the issue now look forward to the consent of the Conference of Rulers and the smooth passing of the amendment in Parliament.

Bina urged all relevant stakeholders, including cross-party MPs, to work together to ensure that a two-thirds majority vote is obtained, and the amendment is implemented promptly.

She said this is a crucial step in the protection, safety, and well-being of all Malaysian women and their children.

“It is our hope that no Malaysian women and their children will be put in such vulnerable situations in the future.”

The Cabinet announcement was made in a joint statement by Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail and Law and Institutional Reform Minister Datuk Seri Azalina Othman Said, who added that the amendment is expected to be tabled in the current Dewan Rakyat meeting.

They said the Cabinet had agreed to the proposal to amend the Constitution, in particular Section 1(1)(d) and Section 1(1)(e) of Part I in the Second Schedule, and Section 1(b) and Section 1(c) in Part II of the same schedule.

The proposed amendment seeks to address the long-standing citizenship dilemma of children born overseas to Malaysian mothers and non-Malaysian fathers, enabling them to become Malaysian citizens by operation of law, meaning automatically, without having to apply, as is the current situation.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) also welcomed the government decision on the matter.

In a statement, Suhakam said the move signifies an important step in fulfilling the rights of children and women in Malaysia, in accordance with the country’s obligations as a party to the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.

Between 2018 and 2021, there were 2,352 citizenship applications from Malaysian mothers for their children.