Amending the Federal Constitution to Unambiguously Defend Gender Equality


It was only in September last year that Aliran welcomed a High Court ruling that children born overseas to Malaysian mothers with foreign spouses would be eligible for Malaysian citizenship.

Prior to this landmark High Court ruling, only children born overseas to Malaysian fathers with foreign spouses were eligible for citizenship.

Proponents and supporters of this court ruling had fought hard to challenge the blatantly fundamental discrimination against women.

The High Court Judge ruled that Section 8(2) of the Equality Constitution prohibits discrimination on grounds of sex and that the word father in the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) should also include mothers, and their children are also entitled to full citizenship.

But the joy was short-lived. The Court of Appeal, in a majority decision dated August 5, 2022, overturned the High Court’s decision.

Of course, this would not have happened if only the Government had accepted the wisdom of the High Court’s decision and heard the call from many concerned citizens and civil society groups, including Family Frontiers, not to appeal. of the High Court’s decision.

But what is done is done. We must duly respect and honor the judicial process and wait for a final appeal to the Federal Court to review the decision of the Court of Appeal.

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The majority decision by two of the three Court of Appeals justices was that the word father in the Federal Constitution under the Second Schedule, Part II, Section 1(b) cannot extend to mothers. In their ruling, the judges stressed that only Parliament could rewrite the Constitution for these amendments.

The only dissenting judgment argued that not recognizing the father would be outright discriminatory, as if to say that “the line of the mother is ‘inferior’ to the line of the father”.

Legal arguments aside, it is important that we depart from simply reading the letter of the law to appreciate the importance of recognizing gender equality and non-discrimination against women.

In this particular case, Aliran echoes calls from multiple parties who have urged MPs to right a wrong by amending the relevant section of the Constitution to remove any ambiguity and misinterpretation so that Malaysian mothers have the same rights as Malaysian fathers. .

This decision will certainly be in line with the concept of keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian family) that the government promotes.

Aliran Executive Committee
August 7, 2022

AGENDA RAKYAT – Lima perkara utama

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The views expressed in Aliran’s media statements and NGO statements we have endorsed reflect Aliran’s official position. The views and opinions expressed in other articles published here do not necessarily reflect the official position of Aliran.


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