File photo of Family Frontiers President Suriani Kempe speaking at the IDEAS 2016 liberalism conference in Kuala Lumpur on September 24, 2016. — Photo by Yusof Mat Isa
By John Bunian
Saturday, August 27, 2022 6:31 PM MYT
KUALA LUMPUR, August 27 – The Association of Family Support and Welfare Selangor and Kuala Lumpur (Family Frontiers) has urged the government to show greater political will to eliminate the discrimination faced by mothers seeking citizenship rights for their children born abroad.
Family Frontiers chairman Suriani Kempe said there was little indication of a specific timeline or action by current political leaders to assert equal Malaysian citizenship rights for women if an amendment constitutional was tabled by the government in Parliament despite recent promises.
“The lack of political will to amend the Federal Constitution to remove gender discrimination in the citizenship rights of Malaysian women means that the struggles of affected Malaysian mothers and their foreign-born children will continue – and we can’t wait forever,” Suriani said in a statement.
On August 26, Family Frontiers and six Malaysian mothers applied for leave to appeal to the Federal Court against the Court of Appeal’s decision in Government of Malaysia & Ors v Suriani Kempe & Ors.
The Court of Appeal had, in a 2-1 ruling on August 5, overturned the landmark High Court ruling that granted Malaysian women equal rights to confer Malaysian citizenship on their children born overseas.
Family Frontiers had 30 days to file an appeal in Federal Court, during which time Suraini said she met with various ministers to resolve the issue through a constitutional amendment.
Suriani said Minister of the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar noted that the government will wait for the decision of the Federal Court before making any further decisions.
“He also gave no indication that the government will table an amendment to Article 14, paragraph 1, point b) of the Federal Constitution during the next session of Parliament.
“Furthermore, he said he would invite the Select Committee on the Amendment of the Federal Constitution with Respect to Citizenship Issues to meet, but gave no specific timeline as to when it would hold its first meeting. to study citizenship issues and provide its recommendations to the Cabinet and Conference of Leaders, as announced on December 16, 2021,” Suraini said.
Suraini said the government has the power to uphold the rights of half of its people by bringing the Federal Constitution into the 21st century.
“They must honor their declaration to meet their obligations under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC ),” Suraini added.
Meanwhile, Family Frontiers lawyer Professor Gurdial Singh Nijar said they will continue to pursue justice in Federal Court.
“It is tragic that the government, with its much-vaunted concept of Keluarga Malaysia as inclusive of all citizens and their children, seemed to turn a blind eye to the plight of these children, while the rest of the country came out in support, some with seething outrage, because children are being treated in this way,” he said.