PETALING JAYA: Two women MPs from the opposition have criticised the government’s move to impose a fine of RM1,000 on parents who fail to register their baby’s birth within 60 days.
PKR Wanita chief Zuraida Kamaruddin and DAP assistant national publicity secretary Teo Nie Ching both said that the fine announced by Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed was exorbitant and a burden on the people.
“The increase in fines from RM50 to RM1,000 for parents who fail to register the births of their newborn within 60 days is an additional burden especially to the poor.
“Furthermore, the national registration department (NRD) has no authority to enforce such penalties as it is not gazetted in the law,” Zuraida said, reminding Nur Jazlan that the amount is equivalent to the minimum wage in Peninsular Malaysia.
The Ampang MP added that the Births and Deaths Registration and Adoption Act 1957 (Act 299) together with the amendments passed last year does not specify the penalties imposed with regards to late registration in Section 12 of the Principal Act.
“The references made to penalties are vague and cannot be imposed merely by word from a deputy home minister. This is a serious matter which must be debated in Parliament as it affects every Malaysian,” Zuraida said.
Teo, who is Kulai MP, said the fine was too high and could result in creating more stateless children.
“What would happen to the children whose parents cannot afford to pay the fine of RM1,000? Will the registration be rejected completely and render these children stateless?
“Registration of births is no doubt very important. However, the NRD must first do an analysis to find out the reason behind late registration. Was it laziness? Irresponsibility? Illiteracy? Or poverty?” she said.
Teo added that in the event of illiteracy or poverty being the reason behind late registration, imposing a higher penalty is not going to solve the problem.
Both MPs also called for the NRD to educate the people and create more awareness on the topic, as well as help make the process of registration easier for the parents.
“The inability to effectively register births is indicative of a failed system which we must overcome with good governance and not stiffer penalties,” Zuraida said.