Christian Sabah native says son barred from school after NRD withheld birth cert

Julitah Bahiau, a Sabah native identifying herself as Christian, said her youngest son cannot go to school as the NRD has not reissued him a birth certificate. ― Picture courtesy of Perpaduan Anak Negeri (Pan) Sabah
Julitah Bahiau, a Sabah native identifying herself as Christian, said her youngest son cannot go to school as the NRD has not reissued him a birth certificate. ― Picture courtesy of Perpaduan Anak Negeri (Pan) Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 ― A Sabah native identifying herself as a Christian said she cannot send her son to school as the National Registration Department (NRD) has allegedly refused to release his birth certificate.

Julitah Bahiau said she had applied for her youngest child Aryton Verlando's birth certificate after his October 28, 2010 birth in Sabah's Hospital Likas, but discovered that the NRD had identified him as a Muslim when it issued his birth certificate.

“I explained to JPN that my son has been raised up as a Christian and asked for the deletion of the word Islam from the birth certificate. JPN explained that my son should be identified as a Muslim because of the word Islam in my MyKad,” she said in a statement released yesterday, referring to the NRD by its Malay initials.

After explaining that she is not a Muslim and showing her baptism certificate as proof, Julitah said the NRD had directed her to obtain an order of release from Islam from the Sabah Islamic Religious Council (MUIS) to enable it to both remove the word “Islam” from her identification card and to correct her son's birth certificate.

“JPN then took my son’s original birth certificate and has withheld the same up until today. No temporary certificate was given to me,” she said, adding that the matter remains unresolved despite her spending a lot of money, time and energy to deal with MUIS and NRD.

She pleaded for help to get her son who is now aged seven into school, noting that she is unable to enroll him in any school as he has no birth certificate.

“I have been pushed around by JPN and am fed up! Early this year when I requested JPN to reissue my son’s birth certificate, they simply told me to re-apply. This re-application will be considered as a ‘late registration of birth’ and will cause me to go through another long process!

“I am a native Dusun from Ranau. No native Sabahan should be treated like this! My son wants to go to school. Who can I now turn to?” she said.

“I am the mother of my son. I have the right to say what faith I believe in and what religion my son and I should be identified as; not JPN nor any other government authorities!” she added.

Julitah's statement did not state the length of time the NRD had allegedly withheld the birth certificate of her son or when she had first discovered the alleged error in the son's birth certificate, as well as the response from MUIS.

Perpaduan Anak Negeri (Pan) Sabah or the Native Solidarity of Sabah group, which had issued the statement containing Julitah's claims, accused the NRD of causing problems to Sabahans.

“Against the wishes of our people, many have been purposely and/or wrongly identified as Muslims. Others have been given Muslim names against their wishes.

“The Malaysia Agreement guarantees us religious freedom. JPN’s policies clearly are in breach of our rights! Our people are furious,” the Sabah group said in the same statement.

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