Monday, November 07, 2005

Of MyKad and My Religion

So much bad press has been written in our local newspapers about our NRD staff and their inefficiency and insensitivity towards non-Muslims applying for the MyKad. The most glaring recent incident concerns an unfortunate elderly Chinese Buddhist who died but her funeral service arrangements had to be delayed for days because her MyKad recorded her as a Muslim. Her bereaved family had to endure unnecessary hassle and paperwork to sort out the bungling created by the NRD.

And yesterday's news once again highlighted the same mischief committed by the NRD against Mr Bulbir Singh, a respected Juvenile Court Advisor and very obviously a non-Muslim. It seems that there are just too many cases of such unacceptable errors that it really makes the public wonder whether there is an element of sabotage by certain quarters within the department rather than mere technical problems with the data as claimed by NRD director-general Datuk Mohd Abdul Halim Muhammad. I wonder if such problems affects only the non-Muslims?

It has been argued many times that non-Muslims should not be compelled to have their religion recorded into the MyKad because it is quite common for some people to profess a different religion from that which is stated in their birth certificate once they have reached adulthood. And religion is a very personal matter for the non-Muslims and there are quite a huge number who do not identify strongly with one particular religion but were made to choose one to input into the MyKad simply because it is not acceptable to the NRD otherwise. Personally, I come from a Buddhist background but I am not averse to saying my prayers in a Buddhist temple, a Christian church, a Hindu temple and likewise showing my respect when prayers are heard from suraus and mosques. To me, GOD is Almighty regardless of which religion one professes. Why should the state insist on pigeonholing me into a category if I am not comfortable with such a labelling even if I have nothing against any of them?

I am of course writing this from the view-point of a non-Muslim and therefore it is my opinion that the non-Muslims should be free to decide whether they wish to have their religion recorded into the MyKad and that the NRD officers should accept that if a mature applicant of sound mind says that he professes a certain religion and wants it recorded thus, he should not be made to produce whatever proof or declaration to that effect. And if the same person changes his religion later, he should be able to amend the MyKad without too much hassle. That is only right in a democratic and multi-religious country like Malaysia.

Perhaps one of the reasons why so many people are still hesitant to apply for the MyKad could be due to the lack of faith in the NRD. And the most recent breach of security concerning tampered MyKads being used by illegal immigrants does warrant a serious re-look into the overall process by the NRD. For me, I guess I will hold on to my old Identity Card a little longer while the NRD sorts out it problems. Seems to me the present card is not as "smart" as it is made out to be.



Blogger H J Angus said...

As Malaysia is a secular country and not Islamic as some want us to believe, religion should not be included at all.

At present Muslims are not allowed to change their religion and this contradicts our Constitution as this provides for religious freedom for all.

7/11/05 12:48  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

In secular Malaysia (I think our laws & regulations are really more Islamic in practice), it is not appropriate for the non-Muslims to comment on anything that touches on Muslims and the Islamic laws that govern their lives, lest we be accused of sedition. But I believe non-Muslims in this country should stand up for our rights to profess whatever faith that suits us, be it mainstream or otherwise, so long as we do it peacefully and do not cause public mayhem. As to the issue of human rights in Malaysia, we do have a problem with our government understanding the definition of the term and what it encompasses. As it is, we still have to fill up various forms which required us to list our race and religion. How does a person who has Indian and Chinese parents decide which race he belongs to? And remember the excuse given by the DG of Education on why pupils must list their religion on their SPM examination sheet? Makes one wonder whether there is a hidden agenda somewhere, doesn't it?

7/11/05 14:46  
Blogger johnleemk said...

This whole issue of "Non-Muslims can't comment on Islam" reminds me of the following poem written by a Holocaust survivor:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

As long as our fellow Malaysian citizens are being oppressed, we ought to defend them as our fellow countrymen. Splitting the country along racial or religious lines only further exacerbates our problems of racial polarisation and disunity.

7/11/05 19:25  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

John, today's The Star paper carried a complaint by a reader who's sister is a Christian but had her religion stated as Buddhism in her new MyKad. To add insult to injury, the NRD refused to allow her to amend it to Christianity without proof of baptism certificate so in the end she had it changed to "No Religion" because it could be done without showing proof for it! Well, I guess this could only mean that some NRD officers are more comfortable with non-Muslims being of no religion than a Christian. Don't you think this is stupid?

8/11/05 18:36  
Blogger johnleemk said...

To me, if it involves the government of this country in some way, the odds are 999/1000 that it is stupid. I've stated before that I believe only 1/1000 public servants are actually there to serve - everyone else either mooches off being in the civil service and thus being practically unsackable, is too busy securing contracts/deals/cuts for himself/herself, or both. The government of this country is stupid. Stupid, stupid, stupid. And the opposition (namely Anwar Ibrahim, the anti-Islamic state politician now campaigning for PAS) is just as stupid, stupid, stupid. The way they talk in Parliament, it's so easy to present the DAP as lousy hooligans when the fact is that almost all our parliamentarians are. Anyway, I've said enough. Talking about the government and its stupidity makes my IQ drop.

Now I have to jack it up by quoting Lee Kuan Yew in Parliament, 40 years ago. Racist he may be, but lies these are not:
How does the Malay in the kampong find his way out into this modernised civil society? By becoming servants of the 0.3 per cent who would have the money to hire them to clean their shoe, open their motorcar doors? ... Of course there are Chinese millionaires in big cars and big houses. Is it the answer to make a few Malay millionaires with big cars and big houses? How does telling a Malay bus driver that he should support the party of his Malay director (UMNO) and the Chinese bus conductor to join another party of his Chinese director (MCA) - how does that improve the standards of the Malay bus driver and the Chinese bus conductor who are both workers in the same company?

If we delude people into believing that they are poor because there are no Malay rights or because opposition members oppose Malay rights, where are we going to end up? You let people in the kampongs believe that they are poor because we don't speak Malay, because the government does not write in Malay, so he expects a miracle to take place in 1967 (the year Malay would become the national and sole official language). The moment we all start speaking Malay, he is going to have an uplift in the standard of living, and if doesn't happen, what happens then?

Meanwhile, whenever there is a failure of economic, social and educational policies, you come back and say, oh, these wicked Chinese, Indian and others opposing Malay rights. They don't oppose Malay rights. They, the Malay, have the right as Malaysian citizens to go up to the level of training and education that the more competitive societies, the non-Malay society, has produced. That is what must be done, isn't it? Not to feed them with this obscurantist doctrine that all they have got to do is to get Malay rights for the few special Malays and their problem has been resolved.

One prophecy (the rise of the UMNOputras has not resolved the problems of the Malays) down, one more to go:
They (the Malay extremists) have triggered off something basic and fundamental. Malaysia - to whom does it belong? To Malaysians. But who are Malaysians? I hope I am, Mr Speaker, Sir. But sometimes, sitting in this chamber, I doubt whether I am allowed to be a Malaysian. This is the doubt that hangs over many minds, and the next contest, if this goes on, will be on very different lines.

Once emotions are set in motion, and men pitted against men along these unspoken lines, you will have the kind of warfare that will split the nation from top to bottom and undo Malaysia. Everybody knows it. I don't have to say it. It is the unspoken word!

9/11/05 17:47  
Blogger Anak Merdeka said...

WOW .. Thanks John, for the interesting comment above. I hope you will continue to share your well-researched stuff with me on this blog, because I'm sorry to find your own blog not very "user-friendly" for comments (though I very well understand the reasons why).

9/11/05 18:50  

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