Human rights lawyer Simon Siah will taking the Home Ministry and the National Registration Department (NRD) to court for their refusal to issue an identity card (IC) to a 17-year-old teenager whose parents were married in accordance with the Dayak Bidayuh Adat.
Siah told reporters outside the Federal Government administrative building here that he will file the case within a month.
He said it will be a test case to be brought to court for decision, and questioned why the Adat ceremony was not recognised by the federal government as it is legally binding in Sabah and Sarawak.
“As a result, we are seeing numerous cases of rural Sarawakians who are unable to register their children simply because they have been following their long-standing Adat, as is their right under both Malaysian law and under International law,” he said.
Rika Herline anak Jiin was forced to stop her Form 4 Class last year as NRD had refused to issue her with the identity card, but instead had classified her as non-Malaysian.
However, there was no problem with her younger brother who was issued with identity card by the NRD.
Human rights activist and Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S) civil movement leader Peter John Jaban said Rika is a classic victim of NRD which had refused to recognise the unique marriage Adat of the natives in Sarawak.
“After Rika was born in 1999, NRD issued her with a Malaysian birth certificate with her identity card number, but when she used the birth certificate to apply for her identity card upon reaching 12 years old, an NRD officer destroyed the birth certificate and replaced it with another certificate to say that she was a non-Malaysian citizen,” Jaban said at the press conference with Siah.
He said the officer gave no reason for replacement.
He said he is puzzled as to how some NRD officers can unilaterally strip someone of their citizenship without due process.
“Rika’s parents, who have been in a committed relationship for 18 years, did everything correctly. “They married under the Adat and have even gone so far as to marry for a second time in a civil ceremony to try and help their daughter when they realised what NRD had intended.
“Yet she remains stateless despite two applications and has not been able to continue her education,” Jaban said, adding that her younger brother had been issued with the identity card in exactly the same situation.