KUCHING: Sarawak’s Bidayuh Minister for Education, Science and Technology was also wrongly identified as a Muslim in his identify card 10 years ago.
A Roman Catholic from Tebakang, Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said that he had applied for a new identify card and received one categorising him as a Muslim.
He said: “It was a genuine mistake and the individual responsible apologised. Ironically, the NRD officer was also from Tebakang.”
Yesterday Tribune reported that Penan housewife Solan Melai from Long Beku, a remote village in Ulu Baram had been registered as a Muslim in her original identity card.
She will re-apply for a card but hoped that she will not be penalised because it was not her mistake. She is one of the estimated 2,000 Penan who still do not have identity cards (IC) or Birth Certificates (BNC).
She was worried she would have to pay the RM30 penalty that comes when the NRD issues a new IC.
She said that after she reported the matter last week, she was told to go back to her village and return to Marudi on another day to reapply for an IC.
“We are poor people and cannot afford to be travelling from Long Beko to Marudi. The problem is compounded because three of my children do not have birth certificates and I will have to come to Marudi to sort out their papers,” said Solan whose husband had to pay at least RM2,000 to make a return trip from their village to the NRD office in Marudi.
This is just one of the many problems faced by several hundred Penan in the State who are still unable to obtain identification documents.
In some of the papers issued by the NRD the Penan were declared as “Punan”- a different race which was found in Belaga.
In certain documents some of the Penan children who are from the Borneo Evangelical Mission (BEM) were declared as “Agama Lian”or non-Christians.
Another housewife Tabok Bajang complained that the authorities registered her name wrongly and as a result her registrations papers were declared “null and void”.
She tried to apply for birth certificates for six members of the family but failed. Her daughter Melis was told that her mother’s name on her identity card Tebuk Bajang was different from the name Tabok Bajang on her birth certificate.
Another classic case is that of Penan village head “Tua Kampung” Pusa Luding of Long Sabai who went to the Marudi office last week to collect his identity card but was told that it had been destroyed.
He said: “I filled in the documents in the last registration exercise in Long San last year and my IC was approved. I was unable to collect the IC as I live very far away. So I sent my sister who lives in Marudi to collect it on my behalf, but was told that I had to collect it in person.
“But when I went to the office last week I was told by the clerk that they had destroyed my IC because I was late in collecting it. I was then asked to pay RM30 for a new IC and come back to collect it in two weeks time.”
Federal Minister for Works Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof told the Tribune that if the NRD cannot solve Solan’s problem he will assist.
According to the NRD they have registered about 15,000 Penan to date out of a total 17,000 members of the community.