Press Statement By Sarawak:
The State Government is called to look into why should JPN Putrajaya be still involved in the approval of issuance of late registration of birth certificates from Sarawak when the State Director of JPN Sarawak should have the power to approve it. Under Section 3A of the National Registration Act 1959, our JPN State Director may exercise all the powers and perform all the duties of the Director General of JPN Putrajaya. This position is affirmed by the Director General of JPN in November 2019 (Borneo Post November 11th 2019) when there was a public concern that the state JPN would no longer be allowed to process late registration of birth certificates from the state.
However, despite the above provision in the Act and confirmation by the Director General, JPN Putrajaya is still calling the final shot in approving the issuance of late birth certificates applications from Sarawak. This has resulted in a lot of these applications for birth certificates for our undocumented children coming to a standstill since the beginning of MCO; as even when the process for such applications have been completed by JPN Sarawak, they cannot proceed to issue the birth certificates until the officers from JPN Putrajaya have flown in to Sarawak to convene the meeting to officially approve the applications. This was revealed to us from our regular enquires and follow ups on the applications in our hands. On our further inquiry as to why could the meeting not be held online through Zoom, we were informed that JPN Putrajaya will have to sign and chop on the birth certificates before their issuance to the applicants. Having to wait for the officers from JPN Putrajaya to physically fly in to meet and approve the issuance of the birth certificates jams up the process of subsequent applications for guardianship, adoption and citizenship of these undocumented children as until now, the scheduled meetings have been rescheduled time and again as travelling is restricted during the pandemic. It is causing these undocumented children to wait indefinitely for the issuance of the relevant birth certificates and which might cause them to miss the deadline to apply for guardianship and adoption (which is below 18 years old) and for citizenship under Article 15A of the Federal Constitution which is below 21 years old. Indeed, a few of the applications in our hands have “expired” in the sense that the child concerned has reached 18 years old and is therefore over the age of eligibility for a guardianship and adoption applications.
Previous statistics have shown that Sarawak tops the list of states with the most numbers of late birth registrations in the country. GPS government therefore needs to look into this matter and resolves it urgently. In the event that the state government is sincere in helping our undocumented children in the State, they should ensure that the powers and authority accorded to JPN Sarawak should be allowed, at least during these uncertain times when travelling is restricted, to be exercised in order that the latter may issue the late birth certificates without having the need to go through JPN Putrajaya.
This should enable and allow the applicants to take the necessary next step in procuring citizenship for their children without any unnecessary delay.