KOTA KINABALU: UPKO expressed its surprise and disappointment about a Health Ministry circular that states that government hospitals shall only recognise marriage certificates issued by the National Registration Department, State Islamic Religious Council and the Malaysian High Commission for purpose of births at hospitals.
The circular was issued in December 2014 and it stated that Native Court Marriage certificate in Sabah is not recognised.
It also pointed out that parents who are married in the Native Court will have to fork out a fee of RM3,801, the rate for a foreigner for the birth of a child.
“The National Registration Department has formally recognised the legality of Native Court Marriage certificate since 28th August 2009. This was much appreciated as it is an acknowledgement of the authority of the Native Court in Sabah and a sign of respect to the indigenous community in the State.
“In contrast, the Health Ministry circular is demeaning the authority of our Native Court,” said Datuk Donald Peter Mojuntin, UPKOSecretary-General and Chairman of UPKO Citizenship and Native Affairs Bureau.
He said this during the presentation of donation to Zaudin Bin Bangkok whose child has not been issued a birth certificate because he could not afford to pay the hefty fee.
Zaudin is a Kadazan from Kota Marudu whose wife gave birth a few months ago. They were married in the Native Court but their marriage certificate was not recognised by the hospital authorities because of the said circular.
“This donation collected among UPKO members is to facilitate the issuance of the birth certificate of Zaudin’s child.
“However, as natives of Sabah, we have to take issue with this MoH circular. It is disrespectful to the institution of the Native Court. It shows a clear lack of understanding of our ‘adat’ and the right of natives here in Sabah. Imagine how many are inconvenienced and burdened by it,” added Mojuntin.
According to him, UPKO has started the process to bring the matter up, not only to the Health Ministry, but also to bring it up to the attention of the federal cabinet.