‘NRD Purposely Lists Native Christians Under Islam, Hoping To Get Away’

Jambun: “So, the NRD lists them as Islam, and hopes to get away with that, as there are some Orang Asal communities who are Muslim.”

BOPIM wants to get to the bottom of a long-festering problem among the Orang Asal and put an end to it once and for all

KOTA KINABALU: A human rights advocate wants to take some time off from pushing the Borneo rights cause and help resolve numerous cases of “mistaken identity” in Sabah.

Daniel John Jambun, who heads the UK-based Borneo’s Plight in Malaysia Foundation (Bopim), said that too many Christians in Sabah are in possession of MyKads which lists them as Muslim.

Jambun was taking his cue from Karanaan Assemblyman, Datuk Masidi Manjun, a Dusun from Ranau, expressing “unfamiliarity” on the extent of “mistaken identity” cases in Sabah.

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“Whatever he had to say on the plight of Madame Julitah Bahiau and her seven-year-old son, Aryton Verlando, was not very helpful,” he said in an interview. “These are the latest ‘mistaken identity’ cases in the local media.”

He pointed out that Julitah wants the National Registration Department (NRD) to delete the word “Islam” from her MyKad and issue a birth certificate as well to her son. The boy needs a birth certificate to be in school.

Jambun added that non-Muslims with the word “Islam” in their MyKads should not be told by the NRD to go through the Syariah Court to get the matter rectified.

“Julitah is not a case of Muslims wishing to renounce Islam,” he said. “It’s a matter of non-Muslims having the word ‘Islam’ in their MyKads.”

Asked how such cases could arise in Sabah where there was no religion recognised by the state, he attributed it to ‘babudom’ – bureaucracy – dating back to the British Raj in India.

“An Indian Christian in Kota Kinabalu, for example, was given a MyKad which listed his religion (on the microchip) as Hindu,” said Jambun.

“When queried, an NRD officer said that non-Muslim Indians were routinely listed as Hindu if particulars on their religion were not available at the department.”

It is a fact that hundreds if not thousands of native children living in the deep interior of Sabah fail to register their births on time, hence difficulties in getting the MyKad later on in life.

The case of the Indian Christian, said Jambun, dramatises the plight of the Orang Asal Christians who were routinely given “Islam” MyKads when their religious particulars were “not available”.

He believes that just as Indian Christians, for example, were routinely given “Hindu-listed” MyKads, it’s a similar situation with Orang Asal Christians in Sabah.

“In the case of Orang Asal Christians, obviously they can’t be listed as Hindu, as that would look ridiculous,” said Jambun. “So, the NRD lists them as Islam, and hopes to get away with that, as there are some Orang Asal communities who are Muslim.”

The human rights advocate, digressing a little, said that he would not be surprised if many Indian Christians in Malaysia were listed as Hindu in their MyKads.

“Indian Christians should put their MyKads through a card reader to check the details on the chips,” said Jambun.

Besides religion, he said, many people in Sabah and Sarawak were also given the wrong “ethnic” classification.

He said the natives of Sabah and Sarawak should have the “right ethnic classification” in their MyKads. “This means not listing them as lain lain (others),” said Jambun. “Why should we be listed as lain lain in our own homelands?”

“Sabah and Sarawak belong to us,” he proclaimed.