I refer to the motion of thanks on the policy address delivered by the head of state at the state legislative last Wednesday by the Sukau assemblyperson, Saddi Abdul Rahman.
The assemblyperson had among other, proposed that the Sabah Birth dan Death Registration Ordinance 1951 be amended so that the National Registration Department (NRD) and/or the district officers in Sabah will be authorized to approve the late registration of birth certificates in the interiors of Sabah.
He also pointed it out that many people in the interiors have been deprived of government facilities and assistance due to the absence of the birth certificates and MyKad and this is partly due to the transportation and management costs which many villagers could not afford to bear.
While I am genuinely emphatic to the plight faced by our genuine Sabahans in the interiors, I vehemently reject such proposal on the grounds that any issue relating to citizenships and the sovereignty of our state should be treated with utmost caution.
There are several reasons as to why the special provision governing the late registration of birth certificate under the Sabah Birth and Death Registration Ordinance 1951 was enforced in year 2000.
One of the reason was there existed a few bad apples among the thousands of our committed and loyal government officers who have betrayed the trust given to them in return for pecuniary gains by giving out or issuing important documents such as birth certificate or MyKads to those who are not eligible at all.
We have read news reports of government officers being thrown into the spotlight for such act of betrayal and the latest ones were the four immigration officers being implicated for providing fake document travel passes to several Pakistanis citizens in Sabah.
At the previous hearing of RCI on the illegal immigrants in Sabah, several notable individuals who were called to give his/her testimonies have also created the impression among us that there exists individuals within certain departments such as JPN who have abused his/her position for pecuniary advantages.
Until the highly controversial issues relating to the granting of citizenships and illegal immigration in Sabah have been satisfactorily tackled, our best bet in ensuring that only genuine Sabahans receive the endorsement of the late registration birth certificates (which relates to the issuance of citizenship) now lies on our learned Sabahans Judges.
It is to my opinion that our High Court of Kota Kinabalu is committed to tackle the backlogs and delays caused by the high numbers of application on the late registration of birth certificate which are coming from all over the state and part of this commitment include the establishment of the Mobile Court Unit, which is the brainchild of the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak, Richard Malanjum.
Previous report states that this Mobile Court Unit had been highly successful when it managed to settle 95% of the late registration of birth certificates cases brought by villagers in the rural and interiors areas since it inception in 2007.
This only serves to confirm to us that the Mobile Court Unit is competent and efficient in meeting the responsibility entrusted on it while at the same time, is highly effective in ensuring that our state's sovereignty and security remained intact.
The Mobile Court Unit also managed to expose several instances of illegal immigrants trying to secure citizenships since the nature of the application itself requires any applicant of the late registration of birth certificate to undergo a face to face interview with the first class magistrate or judge and there must be several witnesses to vouch for the applicant.
Clearly, this serves as very strict citizenship filtering process to ensure that only genuine Sabahans will be given the endorsement for the late registration of birth certificates and also our final bastion to preserve our State's sovereignty and security.
Elected reps, go to ground
While the said assemblyperson contended that transportation costs have made it difficult for many of the villagers to attend the hearing, then perhaps he should emulate the member of parliament for Kinabatangan, Bung Moktar Radin who traveled together with Richard Malanjum to Kampung Inarad for the late registration of birth certificate exercise for some 136 villagers.
Bung Moktar Radin had clearly said it that 'the chief judge of Sabah and Sarawak is ready to move to all the remote areas in Sabah but sadly he (Richard) do not have enough funding for it since the funding for Mobile Court is basically comes from his own pocket'.
So as responsible assemblymen, all the elected representatives in the interiors should coordinate with the district officers, village chief/JKKK chairmen and the High Court of Kota Kinabalu to enable the Mobile Court Unit to visit their respective constituency to enable the interviews on the applicants be made.
It must also be stressed that whether or not a person is a genuine local Sabahan can only be determined through an inquiry and not merely by an affirmation of a Statutory Declaration like what seems to be the current practice of NRD.
Whilst not questioning the integrity of NRD officials, one cannot resist to conclude as was revealed in the RCI that some officers from all stratas in the NRD had been directly involved in the 'Project IC' or 'IC Scam'.
What more with the revelations made by Hassnar Ebrahim and many others in the RCI whereby, the Surat Akuan (SD) were one of the many instruments used to legalized dubious people were late birth certificate were issued thereafter.
The temptation of churning pecuniary interest if the provisions contained in the Birth and Death Ordinances are taken away can lead to immeasurable abuses or used by some people of interest to increase or change the demography of our Beloved Sabah at the dire expense of our future and her generation.
In short, this proposal should not be entertained at all and we must protect our State's sovereignty and security at all cost.
We must also have full confidence and trust with our Sabahan Judges who are doing their best to protect our state and we should render our support and assistance to them.
The previous and existing state government had made grievous mistake in the allowing foreigners to enter Sabah through Menumbok and Jesselton Point and while the Government is still dilly-dallying on this issue, they should not gamble the lives of our children by taking away our last bastion of defense which is our Sabahans Judges.
DARELL LEIKING is Penampang MP and PKR vice president.