Give mothers right to pass citizenship to children

Chua Kuan Ching

KUCHING: The government has been urged to look into amending the Federal Constitution to give mothers the same rights as fathers in terms of passing citizenship down to their children.

Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS) legal advisor, Chua Kuan Ching, said to resolve the disharmony, the matter needed to be heard in court as many cases had been brought before the justice by Malaysian mothers.

“We (SWWS) like many other civil society organisations are hoping the ruling goes in their favour as we share the same view that the law is illogical,” she said when asked about former law minister and Pengerang MP Datuk Seri Azlina Osman Said’s recent comments on Malaysian citizenship for foreign-born Malaysian children.

Chua, who is also SWWS committee member, emphasised that the law should be altered to allow mothers to pass citizenship down to their children, as this issue had a significant impact on the lives of children and their families, causing tremendous distress and uncertainty.

“Transnational marriages are becoming more common these days and there are many reasons why women can be abroad at the time of birth.

“Why should they (women) and their children be subjected to discrimination? If the child had been born in Malaysia, they would have been granted citizenship immediately because the constitution references either parent, not only the father, in such circumstances.”

She pointed out that the current laws also run contrary to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (Cedaw) of the United Nations (UN) and also against the best interests of the child.

“Women are clearly discriminated against which is counter to Article 8 (2) of the FC which disallows gender discrimination.

“The problem occurs as this part of the Constitution was amended to include gender later than the inclusion of Article 14, Schedule 1 (b) and (c), which deals with citizenship for persons born outside of Malaysia and within these schedules, only fathers are mentioned not mothers or either parent.”

She hoped that there would be cross-party support and no politicking on such critical matters.

“Together we can tell the world Malaysia is a modern, caring country that treats its women equal to its men.”