By John Isaac
WHY is the National Registration Department (NRD) Putrajaya still involved in approving late registrations of birth certificates from Sarawak when the State NRD should have the power to approve it?
In raising the issue, Bukit Assek state assemblywoman, Irene Chang said this was something the Sarawak government should look into.
According to her, under Section 3A of the National Registration Act 1959, the state NRD director may exercise all the powers and perform the duties of the NRD director-general in Putrajaya.
This position, she said was affirmed by the NRD DG in November 2019 when there was a public concern that the state NRD would no longer be allowed to process late registrations of birth certificates from the state.
“However, despite the above provision in the Act and confirmation by the Director General, NRD Putrajaya is still calling the final shot in approving late birth certificate applications from Sarawak.
“This has resulted in many of these applications for birth certificates for our undocumented children coming to a standstill since the beginning of MCO. Though the process for these applications was completed by NRD Sarawak, they cannot proceed to issue birth certificates till officers from NRD Putrajaya have flown in to Sarawak to convene a meeting to officially approve the applications.
“This was revealed to us from our regular enquires and follow ups on the applications in our hands. On further inquiry as to why the meeting could not be held online through Zoom, we were informed that NRD Putrajaya will have to sign and chop the birth certificates before their issuance to the applicants.
“Having to wait for the officers from NRD Putrajaya to physically fly in to meet and approve the issuance of the birth certificates jams up the process of subsequent applications for guardianship, adoption and citizenship of these undocumented children. Till now, the scheduled meetings have been rescheduled time and again as travelling is restricted during the pandemic,” said Irene.
She said this was causing these undocumented children to wait indefinitely for the issuance of the relevant birth certificates and which might cause them to miss the deadline to apply for guardianship and adoption (which is below 18 years old) and for citizenship under Article 15A.
Previous statistics have shown that Sarawak tops the list of states with the most late birth registrations in the country.
“The state government therefore needs to look into this matter and resolves it urgently. If the state government is sincere in helping our undocumented children, they should ensure the powers and authority accorded to NRD Sarawak should be allowed at least during these uncertain times,” she said.
This, said Irene should enable and allow the applicants to take the necessary next step in procuring citizenships for their children without any unnecessary delay.