GEORGE TOWN, August 10 – We at Penang Women’s Development Corporation (PWDC) are utterly disappointed to learn the judgment passed by the Court of Appeal today (5 August 2022) on Malaysian mothers not being allowed to confer citizenship to their overseas-born children and we support for an appeal to be made at the Federal Court.

As reported by Malay Mail today, the Court of Appeal ruled that Malaysian mothers cannot pass citizenship to their overseas-born children. The ruling was made by a panel of three judges, whereby two of the judges echoed the same decision meanwhile one of the male judges disagreed stating this is outright discrimination against our Malaysian women. We truly applaud him for standing up for gender equality.

“I urged the Prime Minister to look into the plight of these mothers and to take immediate action. I hope to see that the Prime Minister holds to his aspiration of ‘Keluarga Malaysia’ and gives these mothers the rights that they truly deserve”, said YB Chong Eng, the Penang State Executive Councillor for Social Development and Non-Islamic Religious Affairs and who is also the Chairperson of PWDC.

In these current times, Malaysia should be making progress in closing the gender gap, and clearly, this is not the situation. Mothers, that go through a nine-month-long pregnancy and have to deal with pain during labour are robbed of the right to confer citizenship to their child. The father on the other hand gets the right to confer his citizenship to the child regardless of where the child is born in a marriage.

We believe that the road to an end is possible in this situation if only the Federal Constitution is amended in favour not only of the fathers but also of the mothers. This will be a step forward to further prevent such injustice and discrimination from taking place. To this, we are truly in support that it is to be brought up in the next parliament sitting.

My heart goes out to the mothers that have been relentlessly trying for years and years to confer their citizenship to their children. These mothers come from various backgrounds dealing with various situations just to ensure that their children are given the same and fair treatment, especially in medical and education areas, as other Malaysian children, said Ong Bee Leng, Chief Executive Officer of PWDC.

PWDC has conducted ‘Do Mothers Have Rights’ virtual forums in different languages in collaboration with Family Frontiers. The forums involved lawmakers, law executors, and human rights institutions in the country. During the forum, the mothers and their children shared their experiences and situations that they had to endure till this day, wondering when justice will be served.