KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 14 — De facto Law Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar today said he would speak his mind if the Cabinet discussed the government’s appeal against a court ruling granting automatic citizenship to foreign-born children of all Malaysian parents.
Wan Junaidi told online news portal Malaysiakini that he was sympathetic with the six Malaysian mothers who filed the case in the High Court.
“The matter is not under my ministry, it’s under the purview of the Home Affairs Ministry.
“However, if the Home Ministry raises the issue officially in the cabinet, I will express my view definitely,” Wan Junaidi was quoted as saying.
He added that an amendment to the Federal Constitution might be the best way to end the dilemma of the Malaysian mothers who could not automatically pass on their citizenship to their children born outside the country.
“The High Court’s decision is subject to appeal as we have a two-tier avenue for an appeal.
“If the thing doesn’t go along the way you think it should be, then the only way out is to petition to the government for a change to the Constitution to give equal rights to the mothers,” Wan Junaidi said.
Separately, former deputy women, family and community development minister Hannah Yeoh said the Perikatan Nasional government should withdraw the appeal.
Yeoh in a statement this morning urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob to instruct the attorney general to withdraw the appeal and direct the home minister to respect and implement the High Court’s decision.
“This episode alone has shown so many inconsistencies within his Cabinet but the most glaring weakness is the failure of this government to protect women and children.
“His one big Malaysian family concept is being tested and torn apart by this nonsensical and cruel decision of the attorney general to cause hardship and heartache to these mothers and their families.
“This is Ismail Sabri’s 100 days test to show he can tame his multi-headed government and bring relief to these suffering mothers and their children,” she said.
On Sept 9, the High Court in Kuala Lumpur ruled that overseas-born children of Malaysian mothers should be automatically conferred Malaysian citizenship.
The ruling effectively removed an inequality that allowed Malaysian fathers with foreign spouses to pass on their citizenship but denied the same right to Malaysian mothers married to foreigners.
Wan Junaidi, together with Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Zuraida Kamaruddin and Women, Family and Community Development Minister Rina Harun, had hailed the landmark ruling.
However, the government decided to appeal against the Sept 9 court verdict.
On Dec 18 last year, the six mothers and Family Frontiers filed the legal action, seeking a declaration that Malaysian women married to foreign spouses can automatically get citizenship for their children born overseas.
This came after the government refused to budge on allowing the children of these mothers to be eligible for citizenship.