We, G25, support Dr Hartini Zainudin, child activist and co-founder of Yayasan Chow Kit, in her call against the proposed amendments to Article 14(1)(b) of the Malaysian Federal Constitution (FC), particularly the removal of Section 1(e) of Part II in the Second Schedule, which provides the following:
…persons born on or after Malaysia Day are citizens by operation of law, that is to say:
- e) every person born within the Federation who is not born a citizen of any country otherwise than by virtue of this paragraph.
The provision grants citizenship to children born in Malaysia who do not have citizenship elsewhere. It provides protection to children, through no fault of their own, who were born in the country but who do not have any proper documentation of their birth, such as foundlings, those who were abandoned, and those born out of wedlock or to stateless parents.
As Malaysians, we cannot allow our country to take away this right from its most vulnerable of members. It is an injustice which should not even be considered as it further marginalises children born in our country who are already at a social and economic disadvantage, and who have faced enough trauma and hardships without having this stripped from them.
We call on our prime minister to uphold his concept of Malaysia Madani (Civil Malaysia) for our country, where the ‘i’ in Madani stands for ihsan or care and compassion. We cannot claim to provide care and be compassionate if we deny children, who are our most vulnerable, the rights that they and any child, no matter their circumstances, deserves. Malaysia Madani will not succeed if it fails to protect our children.
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As a party to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and as a country which has affirmed its commitment towards achieving its targeted sustainable development goals, the removal of any rights accorded to children would be a step backwards in Malaysia’s aim to become a progressive nation which upholds the rights of its people, especially its children.
We, G25, call on our government and politicians to not support the proposed amendments to Article 14(1)(b), particularly the removal of the Section 1(e) of Part II in the Second Schedule of the Constitution. We fail to see any justification for the removal of this provision.
In addition, we are also concerned about the proposed amendments to the Consitution regarding the citizenship of children born abroad to Malaysian mothers. Children born abroad to Malaysian fathers are given automatic citizenship, while children born abroad to Malaysian mothers are not. This is unjustified and we urge the government to finally rectify this wrongful discrimination against women and their children without further delay.
Amendments to the Constitution that affect children should always be just and its objectives should always be to provide greater protection and stability for our children, and not to take it away.
We call on them to think of the children. – G25