Issue of dual citizenship cannot be solved by discriminating against women

HOME Minister Hamzah Zainudin said that Malaysian mothers cannot automatically confer nationality as the country does not recognise dual citizenship. This was in response to a question in Parliament yesterday on the practices of his Ministry in routinely rejecting applications by Malaysian mothers in applying for citizenship for their overseas-born children via Article 15(2) of the FC1.

Children born abroad to a Malaysian man married to a foreign spouse are also open to receiving dual citizenship. Currently, 170 countries give women the right to confer citizenship to their children on an equal basis as men. In some cases, children whose parents are both Malaysian but are born abroad also may receive dual citizenship from the country they are born in.

The threat of dual citizenship is clearly not a criterion applied to Malaysian men. Why should Malaysian women be treated any differently?

Because of this distinction, some children of Malaysian women have been rendered stateless, and have less access to fundamental rights such as education, healthcare and national identity.

Women are required to apply for citizenship for their children through a registration process as per Article 15(2), for which the success rate is 1.64% (based on statistics obtained from the Parliament Hansard on applications between 2013-2018).2,3 The ‘case-by-case’ assessment of applications is arbitrary, inconsistent, not transparent, and takes anywhere between seven to 20 years, without any guarantee of success.

We call on the government to withdraw its appeal against the High Court decision immediately and not perpetuate injustice against Malaysian women. We urge ministers to raise this matter in cabinet by representing the struggles of Malaysian mothers impacted by this move in the spirit of #KeluargaMalaysia. – September 16, 2021.

*Association of Family Support and Welfare, Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) supports, advocates for, and mobilises action towards gender-equal citizenship rights and the rights of foreign spouses in Malaysia.

* This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.

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