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DailyExpress: No reason to stop, says NRD

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) has refuted a non-governmental organisation (NGO)’s claim that it has approved as many as 80,000 late birth registrations over the last 10 years.
Its Director Datuk Ismail Ahmad said since 2000, the department had issued only 46,918 late birth certificates through its mobile unit to register newborns and late births.

“The approvals were done after the courts had endorsed the applications. Everything was done according to the law. We don’t simply issue birth certificates or MyKads,” he told a news conference here, Friday.

On Wednesday, a NGO in Keningau questioned the department after a Facebook user alleged that the number of late birth registrations approved in the State had reached a staggering 80,000.

The NGO, Angkatan Perubahan Sabah (APS), also claimed that it was unfair to always blame native parents for causing a delay in the registration of their children. It added that even if this was the case, the number was very small at just 1pc.

APS Vice President Paul Kadau said the Government should stop the programme until all village chiefs in every village have been elected, adding that he is suspicious how such a big number of applications were approved.

“There is real concerns over possible abuse,” said Kadau, referring to an allegation by one Jonnybone Kurum on Facebook that had gone viral that there could be a mistake in the approval process and demanded an explanation from the NRD.

Ismail said the Sabah NRD mobile unit must and will continue to go around and assist natives and Bumiputeras in the remote interior and islands who have yet to register for a birth certificate, including late birth certificate, and also MyKad.

“We (department) are committed to this and will reach out to where there are still natives and Bumiputeras who have not been registered for a birth certificate and also MyKad, especially those who live in the remote interior and islands.

“The Sabah Registration of Births and Deaths Ordinance (CAP123) requires every birth in the State to be registered within 14 days and not exceeding 42 days, as those births registered 43 days and above will be registered as late birth certificate,” he said.

Ismail said poverty was one reason why this happened, saying most people in the interior were farmers and fishermen and earned low income, thus could not afford to pay for the transportation cost to go to the NRD office to register the birth of their child.

“For example, the people in Pegalungan have to pay RM700 to rent a boat to take them to Nabawan.

“For those in Pulau Banggi, they have to pay RM150 for a pick-up vehicle to bring them to Karakit Jetty at the island and another RM20 per person for a ferry to transport them to Kudat where there is a NRD office.

“This is the reality faced by people living in such areas. It was probably even more burdensome for them 10 or 20 years ago as the roads then were probably worse than right now or non-existent.

“Apart from that, people in the remote interior and islands have a relatively low level of awareness on the law and requirements for birth and death registration because they don’t have access to information and formal education.

“To them, the birth certificate is only needed when there is an official need for it, like when enrolling for school or looking for a job,” he said.

Domestic problems were another factor for late birth registration, he said, adding these problems, including divorce, resulted in the children being abandoned.

“Unregistered marriage and also locals marrying foreigners without registering their marriage also contribute to the late birth registration.”

Ismail said the unit also assisted in producing replacement documents for victims of disasters like flood and fire, adding that it was only responsible to make replacement identification documents like MyKad and birth certificate that had been destroyed or lost in the disasters.

“The replacements for the missing documents can be produced immediately because the data are already in the department’s system. They can be completed within 30 minutes. The photo and fingerprints of the document holder can be traced and matched using a verification method used by the department to authenticate the original owner of the document,” he said.

Ismail said the department had introduced two types of birth certificate in 2010, one for a Malaysian child which is green in colour and the other for non-citizen child which is red, adding that this is to enable easy identification between a citizen and non-citizen.

“The NRD is striving to end late birth certificate incidences by introducing a schedule service in the remote interior and areas that are hardly accessible. Up until today, this service is being provided in Paitan, Beluran, Pegalungan, Pensiangan and Nabawan…we also have a plan to extend this service to Pulau Banggi,” he said.

“This schedule service will see the department officials going to the said areas twice monthly to provide services to register any birth for a birth certificate, so there will be no more late birth registration.”

Ismail also urged community leaders and NGOs to go down to the ground to assist in tracing those who have yet to register the birth of their children, so that the department can send its special mobile unit there to register the children concerned.

“The people of Sabah need not worry about the accusation that the NRD is registering foreigners for MyKad which is not true because they (foreigners) are not qualified to be given citizenship status,” he said.

When asked, Ismail said there were attempts by locals to get an adopted foreign child to register for birth certificate during the mobile registration exercise and they were referred to the police for further action.

“There are such cases but not many. These were done by locals because foreigners would not dare to come and try to register as there were police and enforcement officers present during the process,” he said.

Meanwhile, the NRD’s mobile unit has assisted 157 local victims of six big fire cases which happened in the State last year and until recently in getting replacement identification documents.

Ismail said they were victims of the fires near SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin in Penampang, in Kampung Likas, Semporna, Kampung Pasir Putih in Putatan, Sook Dambai in Papar and Kampung Karakit in Banggi island.

He said for the fire near SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin, the unit assisted 29 victims in getting their replacement identification documents, the Kg Likas fire (12), the Semporna fire (17), the Kg Pasir Putih fire (46), the Sook Dambai fire (13) and the Kg Karakit fire (40).

“Altogether there were 157 victims of these fires who have been assisted by our special mobile unit to get replacement identification documents. Most of them lost their birth certificates because they were kept at home, not MyKad which we always carry with us,” he said.

Ismail said the unit had just completed the process of replacing identification documents for the victims in the Kg Karakit fire on Thursday night. -Larry Ralon

Published on: Saturday, January 26, 2019

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