Friday 17 April 2015

Sabah villagers ‘denied’ citizenship status

The Sabah Birth and Death Registration Ordinance requires endorsement by a Magistrate’s Court.

KOTA KINABALU: Nearly 2,500 citizenship status applicants, turning to the Kinabatangan Native Court alone for endorsement of their applications, has convinced Sukau Assemblyman Saddi Abdul Rahman that there must be a better way forward.

“While these people wait, they would not be able to go to school, or even marry as they don’t have birth certificates and MyKads,” said Saddi in a motion of thanks for the policy address delivered by the Sabah Governor at the Assembly earlier this week.

The crux of the problem, explained Saddi, is that most remote villages in Sukau don’t have government health clinics. “The women have to turn to local midwives when giving birth. In turn, that necessitates obtaining late birth registration certificates through the Magistrate’s Court when they don’t register for birth certificates through the normal process within the stipulated time.”

“Delay, caused by the cost of getting to Court, further compounds the problem and makes it even more difficult for applicants to eventually obtain the endorsements for the documents that they seek.”

The Sabah Birth and Death Registration Ordinance 1951 (Cap123), he stressed, was too strict and needs to be made more flexible to take local circumstances into account.

He wants the Sabah Assembly to take note that perhaps the Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) can be empowered to issue late registration birth certificates. “This can be done by amending the Ordinance.”

At present, he reiterated, the Ordinance required late birth registration applicants to obtain the endorsement of the Magistrate’s Court before coming to the NRD. “This can take as long as five years to get an endorsement.”

“If my proposal is not acceptable, all District Officers can be empowered to endorse late birth registrations since they are 2nd Class Magistrates,” said Saddi. “The idea is to cut red tape. Before 2000, there was no need to get endorsement at the Magistrate’s Court.”

Revisiting the situation in Sukau, Saddi said that 950 applications are for late registration birth certificates, 390 for late registration MyKads, 600 expected the Court to interview them for the issuance of MyKads, 350 are married couples without marriage certificates and 150 are seeking corrections to their documents where Abdullah is used as the surname.

“These people live in very remote locations, doing odd jobs,” said Saddi. “They can’t afford to go to the nearest big town to obtain endorsements for their applications at a Magistrate’s Court. The transportation costs alone would deter them.” (Free Malaysia Today)

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