KUCHING, Jan 10: Human rights activist Peter John Jaban asserts that many members of the public, including many National Registration Department (JPN) officers, are still unaware that a person with a name containing ‘bin’ or ‘binti’ may not be a Muslim.
“Apparently, JPN officers automatically assign Islam as the religion of the name bearer whenever they see ‘bin’, ‘binti’ or ‘bte’ in the applications.
“These acronyms, however, are not exclusive to a particular race or religion. If it were, then why don’t the Arabs use ‘bin’ instead of ‘ibni’?” he questioned.
He said, the usage of ‘bin’, ‘binti’ and ‘bte’ came about during the colonial times.
“‘Bin’ means ‘belong in name’ when the child is a male born to a known father. ‘Binti’ means ‘belong in name to initial’ when the child born is a female. ‘Bte’ means ‘belong to Eve’ when the father of the child is not known,” said Peter John in a statement today.
He said the practice was implemented to the extent that it has lost its original purpose and meaning.
“In Sabah for example, a Kadazan Rungus may bear ‘binti’ in her name but profess the Christian faith. The same goes for a Sarawakian Melanau.
“We hope this revelation will enlighten the masses and create awareness on the proper and original intended usage of ‘bin’, ‘binti’ and ‘bte’.
“In addition, JPN must do their proper due diligence on the background of each applicant so that their religious status can be correctly reflected,” said Peter John.
He added Malaysia is one of the signatories of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination Against Women.
“Despite maintaining reservations on several of the clauses, the government has, by signing, openly declared that it believes in the upholding the human rights of its individual citizens and so it must live up to its ideals.
“This must include the Right to a Nationality and an education as well as Freedom of Religion,” stated Peter John.