PETALING JAYA: There will be a solution to the issue of illegitimate Muslim children being denied the right to have their father’s name recorded on their birth certificates, said Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Ghani Patail.
“I assure you that I will find a solution for this by next week. For me, registration is just registration. Fatwa cannot override the law if there is nothing wrong with the law. What you want … what we all want is to help the child and, to me, a law is a law, just like how a rose is a rose,” he said at the closing of the Forum on the Rights of Women and Children: A National Concern.
The forum, initiated by the Attor-ney-General’s Chambers with the help of the Razak School of Govern-ment, was attended mainly by rights activists and scholars in the field.
Presently, the National Registration Department’s (NRD) does not record the father’s name if the Muslim child is born less than six months after marriage.
Instead, the NRD records tiada maklumat (no information) in the space where the father’s name is supposed to be.
This, child activists argue, goes against articles 5 and 8 of the Federal Constitution, which gives a child the right to life, privacy, identity to equal treatment under the law and to non-discrimination.
Abdul Ghani’s assurance was met with applause and cheers by the participants, many of whom have been lobbying for the NRD to change its stance on the matter.
He, however, urged the participants of the forum not to “make a big noise about it” as yet.
Currently, there are over 234,000 children who have “no-information” written in the space for their father’s name in their birth certificate. Some 85,000 of them are Muslims.
For Muslims, the illegitimate children status is attributed to babies whose parents have not performed the akad nikah or to those born less than six months after the solemnisation.
However, under Civil Family Laws, non-muslim children who are born illegitimate can be made legitimate by the subsequent marriage of the parents.