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Man suing the NRD over child’s religion
Published on: Monday, January 20, 2020
By: Ricardo Unto
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KOTA KINABALU: A local businessman will be filing a judicial review in the High Court of Kota Kinabalu over the refusal of the National Registration Department (NRD) to issue a birth certificate for his new-born. 

Ong Seng Teng, 35, who is also Sance Association of Sabah President, said he believed the NRD’s refusal is both “unlawful and unconstitutional.”

He contends it amounts to a government agency usurping the role of a parent in deciding a child’s faith.

 “On Nov 26, 2019, NRD refused to issue the birth certificate to my son who was born here on Nov. 22, 2019, due to religion issue,” he said during a press conference, Sunday.

He is a Buddhist while his spouse is a Muslim and they had only conducted a “kampung” wedding in Kota Marudu.

“However, my spouse never intended to be a Muslim. Her father is Chinese while her mother is a Dusun from Kota Marudu.

“When she was five, her mother converted to Islam and brought the whole family to convert together with her.

“And when she grew up, she wanted to leave Islam and had filed an application for a declaration from the Syariah Court that she is a non-Muslim.

“But, from August 2016 until now, the court had yet to make any decision.”

To this end, Ong who was originally from Tawau stressed that his son should not be forced to be registered as a Muslim in the birth certificate.

“Pursuant to Article 11 of the Federal Constitution, it states that every person has the right to profess and to practise his or her religion.

“In addition, pursuant to Article 12(4) of the Federal Constitution, it states that the religion of a person under age of 18 years shall be decided by his parent or guardian,” he said.

For years, he claimed, Malaysians have been abused by NRD’s religious discriminatory policy.

“NRD takes advantage on people’s lack of knowledge of the Constitution, and lack of money to seek justice at the High Court.

“According to my own survey, taking out a judicial review in the High Court will cost up to RM300,000 which most Malaysians cannot afford, including me.”

However, he said, he is confident that the Court will give justice to his baby.

“It is unjustified that our State is more concern about stateless children and their education, health and wellbeing, but the same concern is not extended to our rightful Sabahan children and the sons of the soil.

“There are so many cases as mine and it is the travesty of justice.

“Without a birth certificate a Sabah child cannot receive medical attention and attend school.

“How can we deny Sabahan children this right? Why should politics, race or religion take priority over the wellbeing of a Sabahan child?”

In the ex-parte application to be filed by Ong’s lawyer Marcel Jude Joseph soon, it named NRD Director as the respondent.

Ong sought an Order of Certiorari to quash the decision of the respondent and/or the officers of the respondent to refuse the issuance of a birth certificate.

The applicant is also seeking an Order of Mandamus to the respondent and/or his officers to issue a birth certificate to the applicant’s son.

Ong hoped the case would be a precedent to similar cases.

“If we can win this case, it will help in breaking down the wall that separate Malaysians based on religion,” he said.

Also present was Marcel who is also Sance Association of Sabah Vice-President.

The association’s mission is to empower human rights by affirming and recognising the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and also striving for world peace.


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