OUR children are not a security threat. We no longer live in a world where infiltration into our national security is done through human actors.For a while now, foreign powers have shifted towards technology, hackers and big data analysts instead when it comes to gathering intelligence. It is quite absurd then to think that children born from a Malaysian and non-Malaysian marriage could ever be a threat to our national security.Surely, this is a realisation that the deputy home minister, Ismail Mohamad Said also shares given the current laws selectively choose to deny only Malaysian women with foreign spouses from conferring Malaysian nationality to her child born abroad. Otherwise, the same restrictions would have been placed unto Malaysian men as well.Though there is a small relief in knowing the government is more rational in its thinking compared to what it often demonstrates, it is still frustrating to see how this statement instead reveals the government’s ignorance towards the welfare of women in their own country and its lack of conscience.The government ought to make the necessary legal changes to better support our Malaysian mothers. This can easily be done by amending Part II of the Second Schedule of the federal constitution to substitute the word “father” with “parent” as suggested by Lawyers for Liberty in their recent article, creating consistency with Article 8 (2) that already disallow any discrimination on the basis of gender.While an application for Malaysian citizenship could be made under Article 15 (2) if the children have yet to be granted citizenship according to their foreign father’s nationality, in reality the application process creates a disproportionate and unfair burden for the family.We have seen based on actual reports how the government’s response to applications took years. It is high time we amend the constitution.The constitution is a living document, it is more than just another set of laws – it determines the rights of the people, the role of the government and provides a general blueprint of how the country should be.Currently Malaysia is one of 25 countries in the world that discriminates against women by not giving them the equal rights of passing on citizenship to their children but what Malaysia should be in this age is a country that recognises the rights of its own mothers.The refusal to update Malaysia’s laws to one that allows Malaysian mothers the same rights is also backward looking in the context of a globalised world.Our citizens now operate on a global scale where we study, work and live abroad. With a change in circumstances, a Malaysian mother may find herself back in Malaysia but her children risk not having citizenship or have different citizenships that requires them to jump through many bureaucratic hoops.With the ongoing travel restrictions, pregnant Malaysians also had no choice but to give birth to their children overseas. Therefore, the government must act fast and put in sustainable solutions in the best interest and wellbeing of these families. – December 10, 2020.* Celline Basri and Abdul Razak Ahmad are from an independent research institution for studies and policies on national interest and democracy, Bait al-Amanah. * This is the opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of The Malaysian Insight.
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