'NRD has done it without Syariah Court OK'
Published on: Thursday, March 09, 2017
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Kota Kinabalu: The National Registration Department (NRD) had, in the past, accommodated requests to register citizens as non-Muslims after detecting errors in their particulars – and without having to go through the Syariah Court. Lawyer Marcel Jude said there were at least three instances of this being done where three siblings were registered as Christians and both their parents were also Christians.

However, the youngest, a two-week old baby, now is being denied his birth certificate unless the mother accepted Muslim in the registration.

"This is despite the NRD already registering the boy as Christian and his two elder brothers, born in 2011 and 2013, also as Christians. No Syariah Court order was requested in the case of his two brothers.

"But now they suddenly changed the goal post. Why did they have to resort to this arbitrary and unconstitutional conduct?" he said.

This, he said, forced the mother to apply, on her son's behalf, for a judicial review on the infant's case.

Jude stated that these precedents already showed that NRD will issue amended birth certificates without Syariah court order but it seems that now, a policy is being used to change the procedure.

"This poor family and children are being held to ransom. What about the rights of the child?

Why is nobody concerned about that because these children are then denied a MyKad and unable to register for school.

"So the children are sacrificed for an unlawful policy and they are being denied their rights.

NRD has to stop holding the natives' children to such ransom and we need to go to court to stop this unlawful practice," he said.

He added that under the law, a policy cannot be used to override the law, stating that this kind of government behaviour is dangerous as it gave the perception that the department is doing some kind of 'cleansing' through the registration process.

He is saddened that due to such policy, the focus is taken away from the child and his human rights and, instead, directed to bureaucracy requirements.

"I have heard this over and over again but now there is hard evidence that NRD is inconsistent and this is just an unlawful policy. That is why this case is very important," he said.

Jude's reaction followed developments on the case of Julitah Bahiau, the woman who is in dilemma over alleged erroneous details of her religion in her MyKad, being told that she can get them amended by the NRD once she has obtained a Syariah court order.

Its State director Dato Ismail Ahmad told Daily Express earlier this month that the process can be done and in fact, the department had made amendments in few cases in the past after a court order was issued.

He reiterated, however, that as far as the department's role is concerned, it has no power to amend a person's religion.

"We will amend when there's a court order stating that her religion is not Islam."

"This is not the first time for we have dealt with cases in the past after a court order was obtained," he said when meeting Julitah in his office, last Thursday.

The meeting was arranged by her elected representative, Karanaan State Assemblyman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun with whom she had sought help from. She was accompanied by Masidi's political secretary Datuk Amisah Yassin.

The 47-year-old mother of six highlighted her case when she made an appeal to the authorities concerned to allow her seven-year-old youngest son, Aryton Verlando, to go to school despite not having a birth certificate as she had refused to accept it because the boy was identified as a Muslim. - Tracy Patrick


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