NRD Sarawak urged to look into delays in issuance of death certificates

Irene Chang

By John Isaac

THE Sarawak National Registration Department needs to urgently address problems caused by the long closure of their Sibu NRD office in UTC Sibu.

According to Bukit Assek assemblywoman, Irene Chang, the office was closed from Feb 19 – March 17 due to the enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in Sibu.

“In normal times, a death of a family member needs to be registered with the Registry of Births and Deaths at the NRD within seven days.

“However, because of the long closure, no deaths which occurred within the MCO and CMCO periods could be registered until March 18 when UTC reopened for business,” she said.

By that time, the seven days expired for most cases. These would then all be categorised as late registrations which need to be sent to Kuching for the death certificate to be issued.

Irene said many applicants for the death certificates are very worried as they have been told that the waiting period for these certificates to be issued by NRD Kuching could be anything between two weeks to six months.

“This long period of uncertain waiting time, even if the death certificates cannot be issued on the spot as in normal times, cannot be acceptable.

“Most of the administrators and executors of the estate of the deceased persons would need the death certificate promptly for them to administer the estates,” she said.

Also, many death claims have a timeline to be kept. Claims like EPF death benefit of RM2,500 needs to be made within six months of a death.

If a person passed away in February and the death was only registered after March 18, the family members would either not be able to or have barely enough time to make their claim if the death certificate is only issued six months later.

There might be insurance and other claims which need to be submitted within a certain timeline and also civil claims to be made against untimely deaths caused by motor accidents.

“Although I can understand the longer waiting time because of the need to send them to Kuching, NRD Sarawak should give a timeline for these cases from Sibu and others where the normal issuance of death certificates was disrupted because of the pandemic,” said Irene.

With the advancement of technology where everything can be sent online, a reasonable timeline would be two weeks to a month.

The possibility of having to wait for six months for the issuance is certainly too long and cannot be accepted by the people.

“I urge NRD Sarawak to liaise with NRD Sibu to work out the best way for these death certificates to be issued within the earliest possible time,” she added.