KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 10 — A Sarawakian Christian has been issued a new identification card (IC) that recognises his non-Muslim identity and does not contain the word “Islam”, his lawyer confirmed.
When asked for updates on Roneey Rebit’s case, lawyer Chua Kuan Ching said her client had applied for the new document from the National Registration Department (NRD) four months ago.
Chua said the lawyers were informed that he had collected his new IC from the NRD’s Kuching office in late October.
She confirmed that both the IC and the NRD’s official registry now reflect Roneey’s religious status as a Christian and uses his name at birth.
“I’m glad that he finally got his IC after years of going around for this matter and months of waiting despite the decision given in March this year,” she told Malay Mail Online.
Chua was referring to the Kuching High Court’s landmark ruling on March 24, which recognised Roneey’s constitutional right as an adult to choose his religion and ordered the NRD to issue him a new Mykad without the word “Islam” and with his name at birth restored.
Roneey, now 41, had said he was converted as a child by his Christian-turned-Muslim parents.
Kuching High Court judge Datuk Yew Jen Kie had in the judgment noted Roneey’s mother’s conversion certificate showed he was converted at the age of 10, adding that the facts showed that Roneey’s conversion to Islam then was not of his own volition but was a choice decided by his mother for him as a minor.
The judge noted that Roneey was brought up in a Christian Bidayuh community since birth, never practised Islam and embraced Christianity on his own volition.
In granting all three specific orders sought by Roneey in a December 8, 2014 judicial review application, the High Court judge declared that the Bidayuh man is a Christian.
The judge also ordered the NRD to amend his given Muslim name of Azmi Mohamad Azam Shah @ Roneey to his name at birth, also directing the department to change Roneey’s religious status in his Mykad and the national registry to Christianity.
A fourth order sought by Roneey was previously granted last June 12, in which the High Court ordered two Islamic bodies to issue him a letter of release from Islam and to forward it to his lawyers. It was a consent order that both Islamic bodies did not contest.
In the same June consent order, the High Court had also allowed Roneey’s judicial review bid against the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department’s (Jais) director, the Sarawak Islamic Religious Department (Mais) and the Sarawak state government.
Chua today confirmed that Jais had four months ago issued the letter of release from Islam for Roneey.
Despite Roneey’s High Court victory in March, the NRD filed an appeal on April 22 — the only one out of the four respondents to do so.
Roneey’s case once again made national headlines on May 2, when Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said he had received Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s assurance that the NRD would end its appeal.
On May 3, the NRD withdrew its appeal against the High Court judgment in favour of Roneey.
Today, Chua said Roneey was glad and relieved that he finally has his IC after years and months of waiting.
She said he would also like to thank those who have helped him both directly or indirectly.