Federal Constitution (Amendment)
Malaysian Centre of Constitutionalism and Human Rights (MCCHR)
2f3 Refugees and undocumented
Problem Statement / Issue:
Malaysia’s gender discrimination in its citizenship laws is one of the main reasons why children born to Malaysian’s end up being stateless or not a citizen for any country in the world. Malaysian men have the right to confer nationality on children born abroad by registration. Malaysian women lack this same right and must apply for their children to acquire citizenship, often waiting for years with the possibility of rejection without explanation. Another area not dealt with relates to spouses of Malaysian citizens who have lived in Malaysia for many years but cannot get citizenship due to administrative issues. Children and adults who are stateless do not have equal opportunities to work and to get education which puts these groups in a vulnerable position.
Value(s) and Belief(s):
Malaysia is a party to the Convention of the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Article 7 of CRC affirms every child’s right to a nationality. Article 9 of CEDAW explicitly obliges state parties to guarantee equal nationality rights, and this article extends to the ability for men and women to confer their nationality on spouses.
Proposal of Solution and Call to Action:
1. Article 14 of the Federal Constitution must be amended to include citizenship for children
born overseas, and children who are born in Malaysia but cannot prove that they are born
in Malaysia or to Malaysian parents.
2. Article 14 must also include children who are adopted but cannot prove that they were
originally born to Malaysian parents.
3. Section 17, Part II of the Second Schedule must be amended to allow Malaysian mother’s
to confer citizenship to children born outside of Malaysia.
4. These amendments removes the discrimination against illegitimate children or adopted
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