Home Media statements 2012 Media Statements Christians forced to become Muslims by (little Napoleans in) NRD

Christians forced to become Muslims by (little Napoleans in) NRD

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Who determines one’s faith – the individual or the NRD? It is obvious that it has to be the individual concerned. The National Registration Department has no business to disagree when a person lays claim to a certain faith.

The NRD’s function is to issue MyKad and it cannot act beyond this function. It is very clear.

But why then is the NRD making the lives of Bumiputra Christians in Sabah and Sarawak miserable (as reported in the Malaysian Chronicle)?

For Christians, it has been one long struggle to claim their rights. To use the word ‘Allah’ was a tussle; to import the Bible in the national language was a problem. Now, even to claim that they are Christians is a formidable challenge.

Many Bumiputra Christians have traditionally used the word ‘bin’ and ‘binti’ in their names. But that does not make them Muslims. They are Christians for all intents and purposes.

Even when they point out that they are Christians, the NRD overrides their objection and lists them as Muslims rather arbitrarily. Who is in a better position to determine the religion of any one – the person concerned or a civil servant in the NRD?

It is most shocking that despite their pointing out that they are not Muslims – but Christians – the NRD refuses to entertain them. This is really ridiculous!

The NRD is insistent that it would continue to list these Christians as Muslims simply because they have ‘bin’ and ‘binti’ in their names. It has stubbornly refused to rectify the mistakes in the MyKad claiming that it would only act upon an order by a Syariah High Court declaring that they are not Muslims. These cretinous Little Napoleons in NRD should realise that ‘bin’ is merely an Arabic term for ‘son of’, while ‘binti’ means ‘daughter of’. So, in general, these terms don’t necessarily indicate that one is a Muslim. If they need reminding, to be Arabic may not necessarily be the same as being Islamic!

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But why has this case to be referred to the Syariah High Court when they are in fact not Muslims? What is the NRD up to? What has happened to the PM’s slogan ‘People First’? Can a petty civil servant make a mockery of the PM and his pledge?

When a person applies for the MyKad, isn’t he or she required to fill in a form in which the religion of the applicant is stated? If the officer has any doubt as to the claim, it can be easily cleared up by questioning the applicant over this matter. These Christians must have undergone baptism in a church and there would be records to support their claims. Why wasn’t this taken into consideration? In this way the problem could have been easily solved.

In one recent case even when documentary evidence from the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department was produced stating that the person concerned was not a Muslim according to the Islamisation Register – a fact that was reported to the Syariah Court in Kudat – the NRD still would not rectify the error. It wants the person to go to the Kudat Syariah High Court for a declaration that she is not a Muslim before action could be taken to rectify its mistake.

It is very strange that the NRD is unwilling to accept or respect the evidence produced by the Sabah Islamic Affairs Department. Shouldn’t the word of the Islamic Affairs Department carry some weight?

Why does this matter, in spite of being cleared by the Islamic authority, have to be referred to the Syariah Court, entailing unnecessary delay and expenditure? The Syariah Court had in March last year barred a Christian lawyer, Victoria Jayaseele Martin, from practising in a Syariah court despite having a Diploma in Syariah Law and Practice from the International Islamic University Malaysia, in addition to a University of London law degree.

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Going by this precedent, why should these Christians who are non-Muslims be part of the Syariah Court proceedings.

These Christians were not born Muslims nor were they converted Muslims. There is no authoritative evidence to state that they are Muslims.

In the face of this overwhelming evidence in favour of these Christians, on what authority does the NRD insist on listing them as Christians?

Is the NRD a law unto itself? Can it act beyond its scope and make the lives of these Christians miserable?

Because of the unnecessary and irritating behaviour of those in the NRD, these Christians are subjected to numerous problems. Their children cannot be baptised in a church and they cannot get married in a church. They cannot be accorded a Christian burial. Is this fair?

Must they continue to suffer this indignity indefinitely? They need not if they wise up. What they are subjected to is the result of the Barisan Nasional government being too long in power. It has lost its compassion; it has become arrogant; it is unable to recognise the problem or provide a solution. It has become indifferent to their misery.

There is only one answer to get out of this misery: Vote for change!

P Ramakrishnan
Aliran executive committee member
23 November 2012

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