By : FMT STAFF
KOTA KINABALU: It’s common knowledge that between the “directives” announced by Prime Minister Najb Tun Razak and “delivery”, there is period of “nothingness” when civil servants claim they are not informed or are waiting for the “order” to implement the decision.
With this in mind, Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) secretary-general Teo Chee Kang has urged the authorities to immediately ensure that a “proper guideline” be put in place to deal with the issues in the National Registration Department (NRD).
“I am glad that the federal Cabinet has cleared the air on this issue. But I propose proper guidelines be formulated in the NRD so that the officers can be guided accordingly,” he said.
Teo was commenting on reports that the Cabinet had given the NRD the go-ahead to rectify mistakes in the religious status of non-Muslim Bumiputeras in their MyKads.
Non-Muslim Bumiputeras whose names bear the word “binti” and “bin” have had their religious status tagged as “Islam” in their MyKads by the NRD.
The NRD has always maintained that it would continue to list Bumiputera Christians in Sabah as Muslims as long as they are known by “bin” or “binti”.
The department has also refused to entertain any requests to amend this status, saying that it would only act upon receiving an order from the Syariah High Court clearing the applicants’ status as to whether these Bumiputeras were indeed Christians and not Muslims.
Yesterday, reports quoting federal Minister Bernard Dompok noted that Najib had agreed to allow NRD to rectify the error without having to wait for the Syariah Court certification.
Said Teo: “I believe it is fundamentally wrong for NRD officers to require an order from the Syariah Court to amend a person’s religion which was mistakenly registered as ‘Islam’.
“I welcome the decision of the Cabinet, as disclosed by Dompok [United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation president] that such rectification will not involve the Syariah Courts and that it could be done at the NRD.”
Meanwhile, Sabah NRD director Ismail Ahmad has denied that there is “difficulty” in rectifying errors in the MyKad.
He claimed the mistaken tagging of the religious status of non-Muslim Bumiputeras were “technical glitches” that occurred when NRD first started computerising its system.
“Sometimes we make mistakes but this is actually something that can be rectified immediately. All you have to do is point out the mistake and we will rectify it for you,” he said.
In Sarawak, meanwhile, four cases of “stateless” children have led Assistant Minister of Communications Lee Kim Shim to believe that it is only the tip of the iceberg.
“I believe and suspect there are many, not only children but also adults, who are still without identify cards and birth certificates, particularly those living in the squatters in the city and in the rural interior,” he said.
He urged the NRD to send out its mobile units to squatter areas, villages and longhouses to register those without the identification documents.
He also urged the NRD to speed up the process of registering the “stateless” children so as not to deprive them of education and healthcare.
He said he would also write to the Home Ministry to request for a taskforce to be sent to Sarawak to look into the matter,
“Stateless” children are a big problem in Sabah and in Sarawak.
While the numbers in Sarawak are sketchy, aid workers and NGOs in Sabah estimate there are about 50,000 stateless Indonesian children and thousands more of Filipino descent.
Most of these children were born in Sabah but do not possess birth certificates or any form of documentation to prove their nationality.