The government should step up efforts to continue to educate the masses on the importance of birth registration, instead of taking the easy way out of penalizing them, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Sabah women chief, Rahimah Majid (photo).
She said this while objecting to the government’s move to impose a stiff fine of RM1,000 on parents who failed to register their children within 60 days of birth, with immediate effect, as announced by Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, on Tuesday.
Prior to this, the National Registration Department (NRD) only imposed a fine of RM50 on parents for late registration of their children.
In a statement issued today, Rahimah who is also PKR Kudat division chief said such an “ill-conceived-and-oppressive” move 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 also 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.
Rahimah further stressed 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 then noted as a matter of fact that even the Deputy Home Minister himself acknowledged the above-mentioned facts, while making the said announcement.
She added that the unique situation of Sabah and Sarawak was also the rationale behind the Integrated Mobile Court Programme which was initiated by Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Tan Sri Richard Malanjun, many years ago, to reach out to the rural folks to assist them with late birth registration of their children.
“By right, birth registration should be the responsibility and part of the government services to the people since the government is collecting taxes from the people. It should not even impose the RM50 penalty in the first place,” she retorted
She thus urged the Federal government to immediately abolish the RM50 penalty and exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the latest move, in the meantime, to intensify the ongoing efforts to assist those parents with late registration of their children, and to educate them on the importance of birth registration.
“If the Federal government could exempt Sabah and Sarawak from the Cabotage Policy in May this year, there’s no reason why the same can’t be done with the latest move of imposing stiff fine on late birth registration,” she said.