Thursday, May 12, 2011

‘Provide proof that you’re Hindu’

Religious status is only exclusively indicated for Malays as Islam, NRD officer tells someone who wants an extract of his birth certificate.

PETALING JAYA: What was to be an ordinary trip to the National Registration Department (NRD) for an extract of his birth certificate turned out to a highly frustrating experience for P Saravanan.

Saravanan’s queries on several discrepancies in the copy of his birth certificate and the replies from an officer at the Federal Territories branch left him stumped.

His new birth certificate did not have many details filled, including his religion.

Saravanan, 38, was told that religious status is only stated automatically for individuals who are Malays as Islam, and others have to provide proof of their religion.

“If I belong a race called Indian, it’s normally indicated as Hindu, unless I’ve converted to Islam or Christianity. In my birth certificate, it was typed in as ‘information not available’,” said Saravanan.

“When I told the officer to put down in writing what she had just told to me, she became hesitant and sought help from her superior who refused my request and asked me to seek clarification at the NRD headquarters in Putrajaya,” he added.

To add to his frustration, Saravanan’s parents ages and religion were also not indicated in the new copy and at the Putrajaya, he was told to provide evidence he is a Hindu.

“I was too upset and I left the place in a huff,” said Saravanan, who claimed he was treated shabilly by officials.

“We live in a multimedia society. Even if they have made a mistake, they could have been magnanimous and easily make the amendments,” said Saravanan.

No authority to amend details

NRD’s public relations officer Jainisah Mohd Noor denied that only Muslims have their religious status inserted and claimed the omissions in Saravan’s document were due to technicalities.

She added that there were differences between the old birth certificate format and the new one.

“The old birth certificate format does not have a religion column. So when we extract details from the original, the religious status would not be in it and thus not reflected in the new one,” said Jainisah.

She added that the NRD officers at the headquarters do not have authority to change any information in the birth certificate without the individual’s consent.

Jainisah said Saravanan can get his religious status rectified by filling in an application form provided by the NRD.

Saravanan who is working in Belgium-based gasket company, said he returned to Malaysia on December last year to get an extract of his birth certificate.

“In Belgium, we need to produce the latest copy of our birth certificate to apply for permanent residence or even registering our children at school. This episode with the NRD is shameful and embarassing,” said Saravanan.