MyKad shocker for Sabahan non-Muslims
Sabahan non-Muslims in their thousands have been registered with 'Islam' as their religion on their MyKads, revealed a Sabah PKR leader today.
According to PKR Sabah deputy chief Christina Liew, they were assumed to be Muslims by the National Registration Department (NRD) solely because of the bin or binti in their names.
The situation has also arisen because many Sabahans have Muslim-sounding names though they do not profess the religion, she said.
Just as it is common for non-Muslims in Sabah to go by names commonly used by Muslims, many Muslims in Sabah also go by names usually associated with Christians, noted Liew.
What is disturbing, however, is the refusal by NRD in the administrative capital of Putrajaya to budge and address the unique situation in Sabah, the lawyer added.
The problem has long affected the Orang Asli in Peninsular Malaysia.
Many non-Muslims have complained that their religious status in MyKads have either been left empty - with the words tiada (none) for 'religion' - or a religion which is not theirs is entered in their identity documents.
The difference this time, according to the opposition activist, is the magnitude of the current problem.
"The federal cabinet should issue a directive on this issue to the NRD in Putrajaya," said Liew.
"It has been bothering people for quite some time
now, and it's time that something was done at the administrative level
to fix the problem."
"It's most unfortunate that the state NRD director went back on his word to have a dialogue on the issue," fumed Liew.
"The government of the day must be open, transparent and accountable to the people. It would not hurt anyone to have a dialogue on the issue.
Federal to state 'warning'?
According to sources, the NRD in Putrajaya had warned its Sabah office against going ahead with the dialogue with Liew out of suspicions that she may also raise the issue of illegal immigrants being issued MyKads meant for nationals.
Liew had also proposed to NRD that the Sabah Islamic Affairs Council (JHEAINS), the syariah authorities and other relevant bodies be represented at the dialogue with the Sabah NRD.
was no response to her proposal, however, from the government agencies
beside the state NRD.
Liew said her own independent research suggests
that the problem runs into the thousands.
Their problems begin, she explained, when they have
to collect their MyKads and find their cards stating their religion as
Father and son
She cited the experience of Adenin bin Ahmad, a Christian Dusun from Tuaran, as a case in point.
Both he and his 82-year-old father Joseph Ahmad – who still has his baptism certificate - were listed as Muslims by the NRD years ago after they changed their old identity cards in 1999 for the MyKad.
They had sought to change their identity cards to reflect their Christian profession.
Attempts by father and son to rectify thee mistake on their MyKads went unsuccessful, despite having filed statutory declarations to assert that they were not Muslims.
Adenin has been unable to obtain a certificate for his marriage as well as a birth certificate for his three-year-old daughter due to the confusion over his religious status.
Strangely enough, his two other children have birth
On Aug 4 last year, to a letter requesting the department to declare that he is non-Muslim, JHEAINS replied that it could not find Adenin's record in its records of Muslim converts.
Unable to determine his religious status, it was
paradoxically suggested to Adenin that he liaise with the syariah court
to resolve the issue.
He was then advised to obtain a declaration from either JHEAINS or the syariah court that he was "no longer" a Muslim, though he has never been a Muslim to begin with.
"Is there such a thing as a 'Muslim' name?" asked Adenin.
"Omar Shariff, the famous Lebanese actor who was
born in Egypt, is a Roman Catholic. He's Omar Shariff because he's Arab
and Arabs, no matter what their religion, prefer to have Arab names," he
For Muslim Sabahans, however, Liew said the problem of mistaken religious identity has never arisn.
Muslims with 'Christian-sounding' names are said to not have faced problems in having 'Islam' registered as their religion in their MyKads, she said.
The NRD in Putrajaya, thus, practices double standards on the issue and is making things difficult for the rakyat "for no rhyme or reason."
"What happened to the 'People First, Performance Now' pledge of the Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak under the '1Malaysia' theme of his administration?" asked Christina.
"He should not allow petty bureaucrats to run
circles around him and frustrate his administration," she added.
Sabah NRD Director Abdul Jaffear bin Henry, who is Muslim, was not immediately available for comments.