Unifor urged to assist S’wakians facing limbo over religious status on identification docs

Peter John Jaban

By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Jan 24: Sarawak activist Peter John Jaban is calling on the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor) to assist citizens with issues related to the religion stated on their identification documents.

Following a report by The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which highlighted the issues recently, Peter said it is time for Unifor to step up and assist Sarawakians whose religion have been misinterpreted by the National Registration Department (JPN).

“I have been dealing with these kinds of issues throughout many years as an activist and the number of cases that I receive is climbing.

“Currently, I am dealing with the case of Haribong binti Mahsin, an Iban whose birth certificate and identification card (IC) list her as without religion.

“Her husband Snap anak Ahok is also listed without religion and yet three of their children now have Islam inserted into their ICs.

“For a further three of Haribong’s daughters religion is listed as Islam on their birth certificates, putting these documents into conflict with JPN’s own records of the mother,” he said in a statement.

Last Thursday (Jan 21), Suhakam called for an immediate solution to solve the issue of conversion involving minors after receiving complaints of indigenous children in Sarawak being forced to observe Islamic rituals.

Suhakam said much of the problem was caused by interfaith marriages in which one of the spouses no longer wishes to practise Islamic teachings, often leading in their children being registered as Muslims despite being raised as followers of other faiths.

Peter added the religious identification issues were a misinterpretation by JPN on the use of bin, bte and binti in Sarawak, where it is not confined to adherents of Islam.

He also highlighted the issue of religion conversion especially to Islam upon marriage which has caused widespread concern and conflict in Sarawak.

He noted the requirement to convert upon marriage is not part of the Federal Constitution.

Peter also questioned whether Syariah law took precedence over indigenous cultural practices in Sarawak.

Hence, he urged Unifor to take charge of its own mandate by helping citizens facing issues related to religious identity to solve their problems. — DayakDaily