NRD Accused Of Tampering With Religious Identity of Sabah’s Natives

For illustration purposes only.
For illustration purposes only.

NRD’s drive to increase the false statistics of Muslim population in Sabah is simply deplorable. Thousands of Sabahans especially our natives in the rural areas are suffering from the effects of an imposed identity, especially religious identity in their birth certificates and MyKads.

Esther Golingi
Esther Golingi

By ESTHER GOLINGI
LETTER: We stand with the Sabah Council of Churches (SCC) and fully support its recent Christmas message.

The Government of Sabah must stand up for our full rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) and there is no time to waste. All government and every branch of it is a trust and every government officers are trustees to the people.

We must also remember that our generation is a trustee for the next one. MA63 is our inheritance. Have we been responsible in guarding our rights as a sovereign nation under the same? If our past leaders have not been vigilant, it is not too late for us wake up now, unite and reclaim our lost rights!

Those who ridicule our call for the restoration of our rights under MA63 obviously have not read this piece of document and therefore do not realise the importance of this Agreement. They are oblivious to the true circumstances of the formation of Malaysia and the processes involved for self-determination of a nation.

We are not calling for Sabah to exit from Malaysia as some quarters may think. All we ask for is for the truth of MA63 be established in Sabah so that the proper process of self-determination of the nation of Sabah can be said to have been completed.

MALAYSIA CONSISTS OF MALAYA, SABAH AND SARAWAK

Chiefly, we are not the 12th entity after the 11 states in the Federation of Malaya.

Malaysia consists of 3 nations – Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. This is the truth and it is crucial that the authority of each sovereign nation be restored in accordance with MA63. The process of this restoration must be transparent and seen to be done.

It was rightly pointed out by Rev. Datuk Jerry Dusing (president of the SCC) that under MA63, policies on citizenship must not discriminate the inhabitants of Sabah. The people of Sabah are furious at how the National Registration Department (NRD) is treating our people in the issuance of birth certificates and MyKads.

Enough is enough and it is time to change the policies on how identification of our own people should be conducted.

All policies of the Federal Government that discriminate the people of Sabah must be addressed by the Government of Sabah. In this regard, we support the call by YB Darell Leiking for the Government of Sabah to take charge of our people’s registrations of birth and death, the issuance of work permits/passes, issuance of permanent residency and take total control of our immigration.

FAITH SHOULD NOT BE DICTATED BY THE NRD

The Federal Government’s incessant drive to change the demographics of Sabah to an atrociously abnormal level has caused huge damage to the lives of our people.

Thousands of Sabahans especially our natives in the rural areas are suffering from the effects of an imposed identity, especially religious identity in their birth certificates and MyKads.

NRD’s drive to increase the false statistics of Muslim population in Sabah is simply deplorable. Faith is a personal matter and our religious identity should not be dictated by NRD.

Please understand that we are not against Islam. We are against compulsion, coercion and deception that disrupt the internal harmony of our society. Policies that seek to regulate our freedom of religion and religious identity are in clear breach of MA63.

In regard to registration of births, our people complain that NRD’s practise is to insist firstly, that a child assumes the racial and religious identity of the Muslim parent. Secondly, NRD will insist that a child inherits the racial identity of only one parent.

Both these practises are against MA63.

RELIGIOUS FREEDOM AND HERITAGE MUST BE RESPECTED

Granting priority to Muslim parents and determining the race of a child by not acknowledging the race of either parent is simply preposterous. NRD’s system cannot work in Sabah and frankly has failed Sabahans.

We want a new system of identification for multi-ethnic Sabahans. Our people’s religious freedom and heritage must be respected. To deny our true identity is to deny our existence. The Government of Sabah must take charge of these matters now. What has happened to the RCI?

Sabahans want to see tangible actions and results. We are waiting for YB Tan Sri Joseph Pairin Kitingan to explain the government’s action plan. Enough of delaying as Sabahans are getting restless.

We support our Members of Parliament and State Assemblymen regardless of political affiliation to stand firm against the Hudud Bill.

We know the intentions of certain quarters in Malaya to turn our pluralistic country into an Islamic State. This is a clear contempt of MA63 and must be rejected outright. The recent amendment to the Tax Act 1967 that seeks to tax donations for non-Muslim religious bodies is another attempt to impose unfair policies in this country.

Why is it only applicable to non-Muslim religious bodies? We want the Government of Sabah to step in and reverse unfair policies imposed on Sabahans. The natives of Sabah are the sons of this soil. We know who we are.

Our forefathers welcomed the Chinese, Indians, Eurasians and other foreigners to our land long ago with open arms. We have learned to live harmoniously as a family and we all call Sabah our homeland. We have cultivated the values of tolerance, compassion, love, honour and respect for one another.

As a united family, we will guard our land against forces that seek to corrupt these values. In Sabah, no one has the right to claim superiority over another. This is our promise to our next generation. The truth of MA63 shall be established and justice shall prevail. We wish all Sabahans and Malaysians a blessed 2017! Issued on 2nd January 2017 by

  • Esther Golingi is chairperson of Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN Sabah).