KOTA KINABALU: Having “bin” or “binti” in your MyKad is not much of a big deal if you are a Sabahan.
“One may have a Muslim name but still not be a Muslim. That is what makes Sabah unique,” said State National Registration Department director Ismail Ahmad.
While there have been cases where Christians in Sabah have been “converted to Islam” by the NRD simply because they have “bin” or “binti” in their names, he had described those incidents as “technical glitches” that occur due to the data entered into the department’s database when they first started the computerisation system.
“I admit that sometimes we make mistakes but this is actually something that can be rectified immediately. All you have to do is come to the office to point out the mistake and we will rectify it for you,” he assured the people.
However, he also mentioned another common issue that his department faces, which are born-Muslims who do not practise Islam.
“If your parents are Muslims then you are a born-Muslim. But if you choose not to practise your parent’s religion, you have no choice but to refer the matter to the Syariah Court. The Court will then decide whether or not to declare you as a non-Muslim.
“We can only amend your religion, as specified in your MyKad, after we get a court order,” he said.
Ismail hoped that the issue will not be politicised to avoid further confusion on the matter.
Recently, one Bob Teoh wrote in My Sinchew claiming that Sabah churches are seeking urgent solutions to the crisis of “converting” Christians in Sabah but none seem to be in sight.
“The NRD has made it clear that it would continue to list Bumiputera Christians in Sabah as Muslims as long as they are known by bin or binti. ALso, it would not rectify past entry errors by way of changing the religion listing back to Christian in the identity cards of those affected.
“The NRD would only act upon an order by the Syariah High Court to determine whether those Bumiputera Christians whom it had listed as Muslims are indeed not Muslims. Even if these native Christians get a hearing from the Syariah Court, both the NRD and Islamic authorities may not turn up, thus causing unnecessary delays,” he wrote.
Meanwhile, Ismail said he agreed with Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister cum United Pasok Momogun Kadazandusun Murut Organisation (Upko) President Tan Sri Bernard Dompok that changes to the religious status of non-Muslims in Sabah, who were inadvertently registered as “Islam” simply because they have “bin” or “binti” in their MyKad, can now be done at the NRD, unlike before where one needed to go to the Syariah Court to rectify it first.
Dompok said among the problems faced by Malaysians in Sabah was the delay in getting their citizenship status and MyKad.
Speaking at the Upko Sipitang Convention recently, he said the Federal Cabinet had agreed to make him the focal point to represent Sabah and Datuk Douglas Unggah for Sarawak to monitor the situation.
“I will be responsible to ensure assistance to resolve the problems faced by the people in Sabah,” he said, adding that many who were born in Brunei before the formation of Malaysia were also having difficulty in applying for citizenship.
“Therefore, those who have these sort of problems should contact me or my office,” said Dompok.