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Luwak: RM1,000 fine too much for rural poor

KUCHING: The Government’s decision to impose a fine of RM1,000 for late registration of birth will eventually cause more rural children in Sarawak to be stateless, said Serian DAP Chairman, Edward Luwak. “The fine is just too high for the rural poor.

I know of hundreds of water supply bills with arrears which the rural people cannot afford to pay and most of those bills are far below RM1,000.

That reflects how big a sum of RM1,000 is to the poor. Poor parents who realise that they need to pay RM1,000 for the late registration of their children births will just leave the matter not because they are unaware of the importance of it but just simply because they cannot afford it. “These children would technically be “stateless” as they do not have proper documentation of their births. Their problem would be aggravated when they grow older and are of school going age.

They could also be denied enrolment at schools. “Another likely thing that could happen is that the receipt of the information of births, normally issued by hospitals, maternity homes and clinics could be misplaced. That would create more problems when the need to register their birth arises,” he pointed out. Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamad said recently that the penalty which was to be imposed with immediate effect was implemented after the Amendments to the Births and Deaths Registration and Adoption Act (Act 299) was approved and passed by the Dewan Rakyat last year.

“The intention of the amendment may be noble, good and right but on the other hand the interest and welfare of the rural poor need to be taken into account.

The government needs to work on a mechanism to address this issue. “Just as in medical services where the government subsidises the fees, the government could either compound the fine or impose a nominal fine or revert to the original fine for the rural poor.

“For this to be considered, a certification from the community leader, a senior government official or an elected representative should suffice to ascertain the eligibility of the rural poor from paying the hefty fine. “I am surprised that none of the rural Parliamentarians from Sarawak and Sabah for that matter objected to the amendment. This goes to show how insensitive they are to the hardships of the rural populace.

“The little cash that they have are barely enough for the upkeep of their families. May be for the case of Sarawak, the Sarawak Government could consider crafting a mechanism to address the issue as it seriously affects the rural populace,” he said. Ruwix is a collection of online puzzle programs and tutorials. Discover the secret of your unsolved Rubix Cube.

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