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Why the discrimination on Hindu names by the NRD?

April 25, 2012

FMT LETTER: From P Dev Anand Pillai, via e-mail

Off late I have come across of a trend and a pattern when it comes to new born Hindu names being registered at the National Registration Department. A lot of young Hindu couples of today have taken it upon themselves to name their children well as it is the name that will determine the child’s good fortunes as it grows up.

Many of these young couples surf the net to find good names for their children and wish to register them without the discriminatory Anak Lelaki (A/L) or Anak Perempuan (A/P) being added by the department in between the child’s name and that of the father.

This practice seems to be only applicable to Hindu names and not names of Indians whom are Christians. Many have returned unhappy when the NRD insists that the A/L or the A/P must be included as it is seen as a departmental policy as opposed to it being provided by the Law.

The law as it is now is governed by Section 13A of the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 which was amended thereafter by the 1975 version with special measures, states that a father’s name can act as a surname for the child if the child does not have a surname like for e.g. Suresh Menon (Menon here being the surname) as opposed to for e.g. Suresh a/l Narayanan Menon .

There have been circumstances where there are many family or caste names which are still very popular like for e.g. Pillai, Chettiar, Nadar, Gounder, Nair and many more which are still being used by family members and descendants which applicants would like to be continued on their new borns. But the problem now seems that not many are well informed in the NRD that there is no requirement for Hindus to have an A/P or an A/L in their names.

The act of adding that on to Hindu names is just forced upon by the NRD because as usual they just follow orders blindly without questioning or seeing the actual need to comply.

Our birth certificates are very clear and precise as to whom a child is born to as the father’s particulars are very clearly recorded on it. Therefore to allow Hindu parents to name their children the way they see fit is a right which cannot be denied by the NRD. The NRD seems very dictatorial when it comes to Hindu names but never questions the applicants if they are Christian

Names like Samantha Micheal Josephs or Joan Michelle Abishegam will be approved without any hitches as the NRD feels that that is how Christian names ought to be but when it comes to Hindu names there are many in the NRD who will pick a fight with the applicants who insists that the A/P or the A/L should not be used.

This seems to be outright discrimination, as when it comes to Indian Malaysians of Hindu religious beliefs, the government insists on the term A/L or A/P being added into the name.

None of the politicians from both sides of the political divide have questioned this practice which leaves Hindu names in a predicament. There have been cases where names which have A/L inserted have been stopped at foreign airports for fear that they may be linked to the Al-Queda because when the name appears in the passport, it reads as AL and not A/L

The Immigration Department realising this has made the necessary amendmends and now produces passports which records the name without the A/L or the A/P. It is only the NRD which has a problem of recording Hindu names which is beyond what they think it ought to be.

The law is clear on the issue and there is no Act of Parliament which states in clear terms that all Hindu names should have the term A/L or A/P on it.

The NRD should stop inserting this discriminatory terms with immediate effect. The Indians have already shown that they are now very politically savvy, so let this not be a reason for the NRD to be further ridiculed.


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