A National Registration Department (NRD) officer has been alleged to have taken an application to amend the religion status lightly during a visit of Human Rights Party with 14 stateless Indians at the Putrajaya NRD office.
The officer allegedly presumed that the applicant would not be able to change her religion on her MyKad to Hindu.
HRP: Article 11 should be priortised
This sparked a debate between Human Rights Party’s Selangor youth chief, S. Thiagarajan and the officer, where the former insisted that the applicant was entitled to choose her religion under Article 11 of the federal constitution referring to the freedom to practice religion.
The officer on the other hand, requested Thiagarajan to find the applicant’s mother and complete the Syariah Court’s procedures.
Though born to a Muslim mother, the applicant Anusha Ganesan was raised by her auntie in a Hindu family.
She was unaware about her mother being a Muslim until the day she renewed her MyKad to marry a Hindu man when she was 19.
Thiagarajan argued that an adult like Anusha should be given the freedom to decide her own religion since her parents did not register their marriage and her father did not convert into Muslim.
“She is now going through what her parents suffered before as she too failed to register her marriage,”said Thiagarajan referring to Anusha’s two daughters who are now recorded with a contentious religion status.
“Moreover, Anusha’s husband was not recognized as the children’s father due to the controversy”, said Thiagarajan.
Applicant’s file thrown?
The intensity escalated when another NRD’s officer was alleged to have thrown an application file on the floor following Thiagarajan’s argument with her on the number of eye-witnesses required for every applicant.
Thiagarajan argued that some abandoned children only have one eye witness; whereas the NRD officer insisted that the standard guideline of two witnesses for each applicant must be adhered.
He said NRD had complicated the registration process and had made it difficult for the poor Indian to retain a birth certificate and identification card.
“Every individual who was born in Malaysia has the right to possess an identification card, but the NRD is practicing their own sets of law,” stressed Thiagarajan referring to the federal constitution.
The ruckus continued the entire day until the HRP finally submitted 13 applications to the NRD.
NRD: Rules for everyone
The NRD public relations officer, Janisiah Mohd Noor, when contacted, denied that there has been any incident of the officer throwing the applicant’s file.
She stressed that the registration guidelines has been in place for a long time and is bound to be adhered by every applicant.
“We are not setting rules for any individuals,”she said.
She added that she has not encountered any applicants who cannot get the minimum two eye-witnesses.
“The range of two witnesses required can be from the applicant’s neighbour, community leader, guardian, step parents to parents”, she said stressing it is not actually that rigid.
She also added that the information pertaining to procedures of backdated birth certificates or identity care (IC) registrations could be retrieved from the NRD website.
The visit is part of the HRP’s ongoing campaign to register stateless Malaysian Indians throughout the country, which they claim amounted to 150,000 people.