National Registry classifies Sabah Christians as Muslims

Archbishop John Wong notes that such mistakes occur because of NRD staff, especially non-Sabahans, who do not understand the uniqueness of the Sabah people’s names.

Malaysia
Aug 22 2014, 11:29 AM
National Registry classifies Sabah Christians as Muslims
Archbishop John Wong

Archbishop John Wong of Sabah has raised concern over the wrong classification of Bumiputera Christians in Sabah as Muslims just because they have the “bin” or “binti” in their names.

In Malaysia, a Muslim’s religion is known by the presence of “bin” or “binti” in the name, but in Sabah, it is used even for a non-Muslim. Even some Sabah leaders have Muslim names but are, in fact, non-Muslims.

The Archbishop was backed by the Sidang Injil Borneo (SIB) Sabah president Reverend Datuk Jerry Dusing. He said the church lodged a complaint with NRD two years ago for 162 such cases in Sabah, but was told that no further action could be taken because the files were lost. In a statement, he asked the authorities to respect the Christians rights to practise their faith as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution.

Both Christian religious leaders called on the National Registration Department to rectify the error in MyKad, the compulsory identity document for Malaysian citizens aged 12 and above.

“We have received complaints on this matter in the past. But I would describe it as more of a technical problem,” Sabah National Registration Department (NRD) director Ismail Ahmad said.

He said such mistakes occur because of NRD staff, especially non-Sabahans, who do not understand the uniqueness of the Sabah people’s names.

“Sabahans may have a Muslim name, or a ‘bin’ or ‘binti’, but that does not necessarily mean they are a Muslim. So those (NRD staff) who do not understand this would just key in Muslim as their religion, based on their names.”

“But in cases where their religion is mistakenly stated, they can come to any NRD office to get it verified. No supporting documents needed as we have records of their parents’ history,” he told The Rakyat Post daily.

Ismail said only for converts, either from Christian to Islam, or vice versa, would then need an authorisation letter from the relevant authorities, such as the shariah court or the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department, to support their claims.

He said in Sabah, most cases are due to the conversion of parents, be it before or after a child is born.

“The NRD is prepared to help those with such problems and would ensure proper rectification is done, to avoid any problems for them in future. We do not want issues raised due to religious complications. We are here to make things right and will ensure that the people are served, regardless of their backgrounds,” he said.

Source: The Rakyat Post

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