Media statement by DAP Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan and International Secretary Wanita DAP Kasthuriraani Patto on Friday 4 December 2020:
Deputy Home Minister Ismail Mohamed Said must not be seen as spineless and heartless, and to be a part of the solution and not the problem to accord justice and to grant citizenship to children born overseas to patriotic Malaysian mothers who want their children to be bearers of a Malaysian identity.
In a time and age of great global movements defending and protecting the rights of women and advocating for gender equality, Malaysia, again has fallen into the abyss of patriarchal, sexist and unjust practices as evidently seen in the answer given by the Deputy Home Minister Ismail Mohamed Said’s Parliamentary reply in the Dewan Rakyat on Thursday 3rd December pertaining to the rights of Malaysian mothers whose children were born overseas.
His answer came as a colossal failure on the part of the Perikatan Nasional Government in identifying the pain and heartache of Malaysian mothers abroad who are patriotic citizens, stubbornly holding their Malaysian citizenships who want their children to be proud bearers of the Malaysian identity, holding a Malaysian citizenship, called ‘anak bangsa Malaysia’, and also providing a solution for these loyal, faithful Malaysian mothers.
Is the Deputy Minister and the Ministry of Home Affairs blind and deaf to the cries of Malaysian mothers abroad who wish to see their children as Malaysian citizens or are they succumbing to the pressure from conservative, radical, chauvinistic views of those, either within the Ministry or even the Attorney General’s Chambers to deny this to Malaysian mothers abroad?
His best defence of the Government decision not to award citizenship easily for children born overseas to Malaysian mothers was to prevent ‘dual citizenship’. This is hollow, baffling and makes no sense when there are provisions in the Federal Constitution to allow the Malaysian Government to do so without any resistance or politicking from any vested quarters.
Perhaps the Ministry of Home Affairs should be vehemently reminded that they are not above the law, the very law they have pledged to uphold and defend. The glaring and unmistakable elephant in the room that Article 8 of the Federal Constitution states:
(1) all persons are equal before the law and entitled to the equal protection of the law.
(2) Except as expressly authorized by this Constitution, there shall be no discrimination against citizens on the ground only of religion, race, descent, place of birth or gender in any law or in the appointment to any office or employment under a public authority or in the administration of any law relating to the acquisition, holding or disposition of property or the establishing or carrying on of any trade, business, profession, vocation or employment.
(3) There shall be no discrimination in favour of any person on the ground that he is a subject of the Ruler of any State.
And Article 15(A) of the Federal Constitution on ‘Special power to register children’ which reads as “Subject to Article 18, the Federal Government may, in such special circumstances as it thinks fit, cause any person under the age of twenty-one years to be registered as a citizen”.
While Malaysia is a signatory to the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) with reservations in Article 9(2) of the convention which reads “states parties shall grant women equal rights with men with respect to the nationality of their children”.
International conventions are instruments constructed according to international standards cementing the spirit of democracy, justice, equality, freedom, human rights and civil liberties and should to be used as a guide and compass for all Governments and establishments to steer them in the right direction to defend the tenets of universal human rights, which is also enshrined in the Federal Constitution. The Perikatan Nasional Government should stop making excuses and camouflage behind the inability or ineffectiveness to bring the needed and necessary reforms to uphold, defend and protect the rights of women, particularly mothers and their children who are citizens and wish to be and rise above themselves to do what is right.
With such obvious provisions in the Federal Constitution to protect, defend and advocate the right of women and children, it is incomprehensible why the Government appears to be blind, deaf, illiterate and insensitive to the plight of Malaysian patriots, mothers who want to see their children who were born overseas to be conferred citizenship status in the shortest time possible as enjoyed by Malaysian fathers.
Provisions in the Federal Constitution, like Article 8, 15, 15A and 18 must be read with harmony with each other in view of acceding and validating the constitutional rights of all Malaysians and persons under the law.
I call upon the Deputy Minister not to give in to pressure from any quarters to spearhead and accelerate the awarding of citizenship for children overseas born to Malaysian mothers as how Malaysian fathers are treated. The Malaysian Government must move in the right direction to remove Malaysia from the list of 25 countries that still treat women like second class citizens, who ironically make up more than 50% of the voter pool as kingmakers in Malaysia.
To the Prime Minister and the Perikatan Nasional Government, do not only be selective to the cries of the Makcik Kiah, Madam Lee, Hj Salleh and Surjit Kaur but also to REAL legitimate cries and pleas of real life Malaysian mothers like Joanna Jayaseele, Mashitah Abdul Halim, Nasrin Hussein and many other Malaysian mothers who are proud, patriotic Malaysian citizens who want to their children born overseas to be Malaysians like them.
Should children born to Malaysian mothers abroad start to train as professional football players, as seen in the accelerated awarding of citizenship of Liridon Krasniqi, a footballer for a local football team, so that they can also be called Malaysian?
Member of Parliament for Batu Kawan
International Secretary for Women DAP
Democratic Action Party