KOTA KINABALU, Oct 11 ― Sabah PKR Wanita chief Rahimah Majid accused Putrajaya today of taking the “easy way out” and penalising parents in two Borneo states who were late in registering the births of their children.
The PKR Kudat division chief said the move to penalise parents by raising the RM50 fine “2,000 per cent” to RM1,000 is “ill-conceived-and-oppressive” on Sabahans and Sarawakians who live deep in the interior and are economically-challenged too.
“The government must take into consideration the unique situation of Sabah and Sarawak where infrastructure development is still far lagging behind, as compared to peninsular Malaysia.
“That is the main reason behind the high number of late birth registrations in the two states ― as a majority of the rural villagers were just too poor to afford the transportation cost to go to the nearest town to register the birth of their children,” she said in a statement.
Rahimah urged the federal government to exempt Sabah and Sarawak from being penalised if they register their children 60 days after birth and also abolish the fine altogether, and cited the cabotage policy exemption as an example.
“If the Federal government could exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the Cabotage Policy in May this year, there’s no reason why the same can’t be done with the latest move of imposing stiff fine on late birth registration,” she said.
Rahimah suggested that the government improve its education and awareness programmes on the importance of registering births.
She pointed that even the courts have acknowledged the logistical problems faced by Bornean Malaysians and introduced a mobile court service to attend to the rural people.
She suggested that punitive efforts on parents who were already struggling with increased living costs may deter them from registering births, or cause their offspring to become “refugees” in their own homeland for the rest of their lives.
The hefty fine on parents who were late in registering births within 60 days was reported to be implemented with immediate effect yesterday.
According to Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, the measure was not to increase government revenue but to compel parents to register their children within the given period to avoid future problems of children with stateless identities.