Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah has insisted that the government should step up efforts to continue to educate the masses on the importance of birth registration, instead of penalizing them for late registration.
PKR Sabah women chief, Rahimah Majid reiterated this while responding to the clarification made by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, on Wednesday, that the government’s decision to impose a fine of RM1,000 compared to only RM50 previously, on parents who failed to register their children within 60 days after their birth, with immediate effect, does not involve Sabah and Sarawak.
Following the outcries of opposition politicians against the said move, Jazlan was reported to have clarified that the amendment of the Births and Deaths Registration Act (Act 299) which the said fine comes under only applies in peninsular Malaysia and not enforced in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The two states are subjected to the Sabah Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance 1951 (CAP 123) and Sarawak Births and Deaths Registration Ordinance 1951 (CAP 10),” he pointed out.
He thus said claims and concerns that such fines would burden the people from the interior of Sabah and Sarawak, was a non-issue.
In a response issued today, Rahimah however described Jazlan’s clarification as an afterthought following strong protest from opposition politicians like PKR wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin, DAP assistant national publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching, besides herself.
Rahimah who is also PKR Kudat division chief said this was clearly the case as, in his first announcement made on Tuesday, Jazlan made no distinct for Sabah and Sarawak.
“As in the like mindset of the fed minister and others from Peninsula, it is always assumed peninsula is Malaysia. What is applicable there is applicable throughout Malaysia,” she said.
She reiterated that the government should continue to educate the masses on the importance of birth registration, instead of penalizing them for late registration, asserting that such should be part of the government’s fiduciary duties to the people whom it owes its very existence in the first place.
“It (the government) should not even impose the RM50 penalty in the first place. In this trying time of economic downturn, a little compassion on the part of the government of the day would certainly mean a great deal to the people, especially those poor parents who are currently already struggling to make ends meet,” she stressed.
To recap, in an immediate response issued on Wednesday, Rahimah urged the Federal government to immediately abolish the RM50 penalty and exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the said move.
She argued that the government must take into consideration of the unique situation of Sabah and Sarawak where infrastructure development is still far lagging behind, as compared to Peninsular Malaysia, which is part of the main reasons behind high rate of late birth registration in the two states, as a majority of the rural villagers were just too poor to afford the transportation cost to go to the nearest town to register the birth of their children.
She also described the hefty fine as an “ill-conceived-and-oppressive” move that would especially affect the people of Sabah and Sarawak, especially those rural folks who are living in the far-flung remote interior, who until to date have yet to register the birth of their children after the required deadline.
She likened the said move to “rubbing salt in the wound” of those poor or low-income parents who are already struggling to make ends meet amidst the current economic downturn, and compounded by a Goods and Services Tax (GST)-induced escalating cost of living.
“The fine of RM1,000 which is an increase of a whopping 2000% from RM50 previously, is also more than the current minimum wage. Where and how are these poor parents going to find extra cash to register their children, now?
“This will only discourage them to come forward to register their children and, inevitably causing them to become ‘refugees’ in their own homeland, for the rest for their lives,” she said.