Kota Kinabalu 16/12/2012: Sabah Reform Alliance Chairman Datuk Lajim Ukin has questioned the National Registration Department's (NRD) silence over the claims that some 40,000 birth certificates were issued lately to children of illegal immigrants in Sabah.
"If this figure is true, I want to know why the huge number (were being issued lately) and whether the eligibility of the recipients was justified.
"Who are actually these some 40,000 people? Had the NRD truly checked their backgrounds before issuing these late birth certificates,"
he said, Saturday.
Lajim, who is also Beaufort MP, acknowledged the response from Minister in the Chief Minister's Department, Datuk Nasir Tun Sakaran, that the 40,000 was a statewide figure and not confined to Semporna.
Nasir had also said that the 40,000 "are still under process and will not necessarily be approved".
But he (Lajim) finds it intriguing that the NRD, whatever the figure, had not fully explained the issue. "Why is that?" he asked.
On Dec. 7, Lajim was quoted as claiming that about 40,000 birth certificates were issued to the children of illegals in Semporna.
On Friday, Nasir refuted the claim by Lajim saying the allegation was baseless and aimed only at poisoning the people's minds against the ruling government and to gain support for the opposition in the coming general election.
Lajim said a reliable source told him that late birth certificates were registered for 40,000 people since last year up to this year.
"Can NRD deny that the department has not issued 40,000 late birth certificates in Sabah. Since Sabah achieved independence and was governed by the then Usno, Berjaya, and Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) and now Umno/Barisan Nasional (BN), we knew about the issuance of late birth certificates but it was never so high as the some 40,000 now.
"Why does this matter crop up now? The BN government claimed that there are existing facilities and good infrastructure that enabled the issuance of the vital document. But if you look at Sarawak, I doubt that the issuance of late birth certificates would be as high as 40,000.
This is something for Sabahans to think about.
"Why now when Malaysia has long achieved independence?" Lajim asked.
In Beaufort, he said, no one has been issued with late birth certificates since last year, except if the person is an outsider and his/her parents just possessed the MyKad.
Lajim said the locals have high awareness of registering their children for birth certificates to ensure their rights are served and their future secured.
In fact, he said, majority of Sabahans would register their children for the birth certificates when they are still infants so as to avoid the hassle and arising problems of registering them late.
"I am questioning the BN government on why such a huge number was issued," he said, adding that during his official visits to some islands in the East Coast of Sabah as a Brigadier-General of the Territorial Army, he had met people who could not speak Malay but yet had been issued with MyKad.
Lajim said he fully supports Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS) Vice-President Datuk Radin Malleh who called on the authorities to be extra cautious when handling the registration of late birth certificates during mobile registrations and to make sure that the children of illegal immigrants would not be entertained.
Radin had also opined that registration of late birth certificates in such huge numbers should not happen given half a century of independence.
"I support what Radin said É he is one of the BN leaders who is alert about this problem," Lajim said.