PUTRAJAYA: In a split decision, the Court of Appeal has ruled that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers can be denied citizenship by operation of the law.
Bench chairman Kamaludin Md Said and Azizah Nawawi were in the majority while S Nantha Balan dissented.
The majority said the word “father” in the Second Schedule of Part 11 of the Federal Constitution meant the biological father and cannot be extended to include the mother or parents.
Kamaludin and Azizah, who said they were following the legal principles in a Federal Court ruling made last year, added that it was up to Parliament, not the court, to rewrite the constitution.
Nantha Balan said the present legal status of the mother’s bloodline was made to look inferior to the father.
He said Article 14, which allowed children outside the federation to obtain citizenship, was discriminatory as it violated the equality provision.
He said the denial of citizenship also went against international law of which Malaysia was a party to.
This means that today’s ruling was made in favour of the government, the home minister and the director-general of the national registration department (JPN), who are appearing as appellants and respondents in two cases.
Last year, the Kuala Lumpur High Court ruled that the government must grant citizenship to children born abroad to Malaysian mothers as the word “father” in the Second Schedule of the constitution must mean and include mothers.
In allowing several declaratory reliefs sought by an NGO and six mothers that certain provisions on citizenship in the constitution were discriminatory, judge Akhtar Tahir said they were entitled to be conferred citizenship by operation of law.
In the second case, Mahisha Sulaiha, born to her Malaysian mother and Indian national father in India, is appealing a 2020 High Court ruling that favoured the government over her bid to become a citizen.
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