Mayashanti5282046’s Blog



Posted by mayashanti5282046 于 十二月 9, 2009


Baram area survey:

Lack of Birth Certificate, Identity Card and Voter Registration

Nov 16th-20th 2009


Executive Summary

  1. Introduction
  2. Survey Mission to Baram area
  3. Findings & Observations
  4. Conclusion & Recommendations


Appendix: listing of all surveyed cases


Every person has a right to be a citizen of a country-this is part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948)-Article 15. With this standard the presence of 35000 indigenous people in Sarawak who have not been registered as citizens –after half a century of Independence, call for immediate actions for corrections. The lack of identity registration means that they miss out on many entitlements as citizens eg welfare, education, health, economic and many other provisions from the government. At the base of it they are also denied a voice in the running of the country-because voter registration and voting require a person to present his/her Identity Card. The presence of such significant groups of citizens who are deprived of their voting rights, as amply verified by this survey, appear discriminatory and will undermine the representativeness and credibility of the elections. This is particularly important in a context where perhaps close to half of eligible citizens, especially true in the majority rural constituencies, have not been registered as voters in Sarawak. This imply that the people’s representatives in such areas may be chosen by a minority of the rightful citizens there. The undocumented citizens will only add to this acute problem and therefore should be addressed as soon as possible.

Presented by:

Ong Boon Keong

Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net)

Add: 63 Weld Quay(3rd Floor) 10300 Penang

Tel./Fax.604-2617585 Mobile: 013-5900339


We site:

28th Nov 2009

  1. Introduction


As part of the preparation for the observation of the coming Sarawak state elections the Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net) has sent a mission to survey the Baram area due to persistent concern over the lack of voter registration among the Penans and other indigenous communities there. Actually this has not been a new issue: the issue has been reported in the press(eg Bernama October 01, 2009) and Suhakam has mentioned in its recent report that most of the Penans in Belaga area have not been registered as voters-which is linked to the lack of identity cards. To ascertain the extent of this serious problem a survey mission was sent to Baram, where 8000 Penans, among many other indigenous communities, reside.

The background to the above concern for election observers group like MEO-Net is: the right to vote is a fundamental right for all citizens of a country. No citizens should be denied their voice in participating in the affairs of the country, as represented by their participation at the periodic elections held on a free and fair basis. No administrative weakness should be enough excuse to deny citizens of their fundamental right to vote.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights(1948):

Article 15.

(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.

(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

 (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

The above concern is exacerbated by the very low voters registration rates in rural Sarawak.Eg in Batang Ai, a rural constituency, there are only 8000 voters registered in the last by-elections in 2009.In a constituency with 22 000 residents, or about 18 000 eligible voters (taking away 20% as too young) the registered voters only represent about 44% of the total eligible voters in Batang Ai! Thus there is a genuine concern that Sarawakian elected representatives in such constituencies are elected by a minority of the eligible citizens there! Citizens who are stopped from registering as voters due to a lack of identity document, probably not included in official/JPN’s count of `eligible citizens’, will only add to the problems of the (un)representativeness of the elections!

For Sarawak the term of the current state government will end by June 2011. By usual practice elections would be called mostly within half a year before the end of the terms.  So there is about 1 year or less for the preparation for the election preparation to be readied-including ensuring all rightful citizens of their right to vote.

  1. Survey Mission to Baram area


A delegation of 5 persons participated in the mission-3 from West Malaysia and 2 from Sarawak itself. We started the mission from Miri, on Nov 15th, where we met with some local NGOs. Then we set off to a 5 day tour of  7 long houses/settlements of the Baram areas, covering, in order, Long Laput, Long San, Long Keluan, Long Selatong, Long Beku, Long Pilah and Long Sg Selabau. 4 Communities were covered: Kayan(Long Laput, Long Pilah), Penan(Long San, Long Keluan, Long Beku), Kenyah(Long Selatong) and Iban(Long Sg Selabau).

We did a survey on the status of Birth Certificate, Identity Card and voter registration during each of the long house visit, with translation provided, where needed, by the 2 local participants. We traveled in a 4-wheel drive in most of the trip, but needed to use boats for 2 of the long houses ie Long Beku and Long Selatong. We brought along voter registration forms to register voters as we go along.

We visited the Long Lama JPN (National Registration Department) office on Nov 20th, to clarify some of the problems of registrations brought up by the 256 residents we interviewed, before we head off to Miri where we held a debriefing of the tour with local NGOs.

  1. Findings & Observations


Finding 1: Incidences of Lack of Birth Certificate, Identity Card and Voter Registration in Baram
Dates of survey: Nov 16-20th 2009
Locations: 7 long houses or settlements along Baram River
  No B’cert No IC No voter registration Total


Sg Selabau 3 1 4 7
Long Laput 19 17 19 29
Long Pilah 32 28 42 56
Long Keluan 62 39 42 90
Long San 21 18 16 37
Long Selatong 2 1 6 10
Long Beku 19 9 11 27
Cases total 158 113 140 256





            Problems to obtain Birth Certificate

  1. Many problems caused the communities here to go without birth certificate. A major complaint is that those kids born in clinics(often within same family) are given birth certificates immediately while those born at home in their `kampong’/village are required to provide more than a  dozen documents eg IC photocopy and photo of the `bidan’ or delivery person, marriage certificate of parents etc. Many residents with little schoolings find it a challenge to understand and locate all the requirements-thus have to go many times to the JPN office to complete the application. The requirements for home birth are lots more than clinic birth-seemingly reflecting some prejudice against home births.
  2. Then they have to deal with the most challenging problem for these far-flung communities: costly and time consuming transports. To go from eg Long San to Long Lama -where the nearest JPN office is located, cost RM100.00/head for 2 ways, and may take a whole day on 4-wheel drives. It is difficult for most of the residents here and thus it can be understood that many locals go without a birth cert, which affect their life and their kids later when they have dealing with the government. Parents’ birth certificates are often required for kids to apply for their own birth certificate-though in the past(up to 80’s) this may not be required.
  3. To make things worse if the parents don’t apply for a birth cert 14 days after a birth they will be penalised with a RM5.00 fine. If they are late over 42 days the fine go up to Rm10.00. Wonder if this `fine’ proposers ever consider the problems of the cash strapped rural folks here? JPN officers in the rank of Grade 22-27 can waive these fees -but in Long Lama they don’t have officers of such ranks!
  4. It also didn’t help that the support documents required for application of birth certs are numerous and confusing eg a requirement of IC copy of the applicants’ kids may unsuspectingly also include that of his/her spouse!  Alternate documents eg marriage certificates from government and from village chief, are listed together as though both are required.


Finding 2: No Birth Certificate-age groups breakdowns
Date: Nov 16th-20th 2009
                                       Age groups(Years)
Settlements 0-11 12-21 22-31 32-41 42-51 52-61 62+ Total respondents
Sg Selabau 0 0 1 0 2 0 0 3
Long Laput 5 1 1 6 5 1 0 19
Long Pilah 4 0 4 4 10 6 4 32
Long Keluan 25 8 11 8 4 0 6 62
Long San 6 4 5 0 4 1 1 21
Long Selatong 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2
Long Beku 7 1 3 3 2 1 2 19
Total in each age groups 49 14 25 21 27 9 13 158


  1. From Finding 2 it appear that there are more birth certificate problems for the youngest age groups from 0-11 years old(49 cases). However the longer time available to the higher age groups did not cause them to solve their birth certificate problems entirely over time. This shows that there are some structural problems which remain unresolved and led to the persistence of the problems till old age for many of the residents here.


      Problems to obtain IC

  1.  JPN officers have been said to be less than helpful when it come to IC applications. Due to the requirements of numerous support documents, there are rooms for corruptions by the officers involved. Many villagers complained about a JPN officer by the name Rutin, who had been said to demand huge payments for applying for ICs and birth certificates. An uncorroborated incident involved Penans coming to JPN office in Long Lama with the `Sumpit'(blowpipes) to confront this officer. Mr Rutin has been transferred to Marudi 1 year ago to be put under observation, according to officers at Long Lama JPN office.
  2. From the information we gather from the residents JPN officers don’t clarify to the usually illiterate applicants the reasons for delays or rejection of applications, causing the applicants to make numerous repeat runs to the JPN office over many years and yet could not settle the applications. The residents have also complained of being asked to reapply-causing them to make new payments for the applications.
  3. Case study 1: Kevin Nuing-When the JPN officer does scribble some remarks on the receipt of the application forms some are almost hilarious eg one required a reapplication `on-line'(sic!) Wonder if the officer bother to find out if there is internet access in most of these interior areas. In fact there is not even mobile phone network or phones network using land lines in most of Baram outside Miri. Many places don’t even have main grid electricity and piped water supply, to start with!


  1. Case study 2: 2 brothers from the same family in Long Laput House No. 91:  Ronnie Wan, age 21, don’t have birth certificate and IC; Nicholas Lengang Wan, age 19, has birth certificate. Nicholas was told by JPN officer that he cannot have his IC till his brother obtain his birth certificate –then both brothers will get their IC together. Wonder where are the regulations which spell out such a policy!

10.  From Finding 3 below it appear that the IC problems are significant for those between 12-31(60 cases), but persist till 42-51 age group(36 cases), despite more time to solve the problem for the older age group. Some structural problems must be addressed to put an end to this persistence of IC problems.

Finding 3: No IC-age groups breakdowns
Date of Survey: Nov 16th-20th 2009
                                         Age groups (Year)
Settlements 12-21 22-31 32-41 42-51 52-61 62+ total
Sg Selabau 0 1 0 0 0 0 1
Long Laput 2 1 8 5 1 0 17
Long Pilah 2 5 5 9 6 1 28
Long Keluan 16 12 4 3 1 3 39
Long San 11 7 0 0 0 0 18
Long Selatong 1 0 0 0 0 0 1
Long Beku 3 4 2 0 0 0 9
Total in age groups 35 30 19 17 8 4 113


Problems of Mobile JPN units


11.  Perhaps to deal with complaints of access the JPN from Kuching and Miri do occasionally send mobile registration units to the long houses. However from someone who witnessed it there are numerous complaints: there is not much notice to the deployment of these mobile units. In truth we found a schedule of it on a periodical from the JPN dated 2007. Since there are only a few copies of the magazine in the Long Lama JPN office where else can people get to know the deployment of these otherwise useful service? In fact even the Long Lama JPN office said they had never been told in advance of the deployment of these mobile unit-except after the events. In any case they are not involved.  Then the mobile units only park in 1 place and require long houses all around to come to it. It is troublesome for many residents here to come within the 2 days the mobile unit was parked there. In a witnessed case in Long San, which took place recently this year, the mobile unit closed right on time-even with long queue waiting for their service. No one knows when they will come again.

         Problems of voter registration


12.  With so many people not eligible to register as voters due to their lack of IC it does not help that for those who are, voters registration can be difficult due to the distance to travel to the nearest town in Long Lama. In recent years the SPR/Election Commission allowed political parties and some NGOs to be `Penolong Pendaftar'(Registration assistants) to help register the voters in the long houses. However transport problems is still slowing down the effort by these groups. The requirement to attach a photo copy of the applicants’ IC means that the person who do registration need at least a camera to enable him/her to carry out the duty for applicants staying in remote areas.

13.  Then for those who already registered they face the problem of going to vote. A local told us that of the 30 registered from Long Keluan only 10 did go to vote in Long San, in the last election. Voting can be a costly an time consuming affairs for these voters!

14.  Despite the discouraging situation there are a bright spot: after Suhakam visited Penan communities affected by the Murum hydrelectric dam they mentioned in their report that they found most of the Penan residents in 2 long house they visited to have no IC. This seems to cause the JPN to process 500 ICs for Penans in Belaga areas. But is this enouh given the high rate of the lack of IC in eg the entire Baram area? So there is a real need to highlight the lack of all personal registrations (birth certs, IC and voters registration) in long houses in Baram area.

Finding  4: No voter registration: age groups breakdown
Date of survey: Nov 16-20th 2009
                                   Age groups ( Year)
Settlements 21-30 31-40 41-50 51-60 61+ Total
Sg Selabau 3 0 0 1 0 4
Long Laput 4 6 8 1 0 19
Long Pilah 11 9 11 8 3 42
Long Keluan 21 11 5 1 4 42
Long San 8 2 5 0 1 16
Long Selatong 4 1 1 0 0 6
Long Beku 0 9 1 1 0 11
Age groups total 51 38 31 12 8 140


15.  From Finding 4 it appear that voter registration persist for the 3 age groups from 21 years onwards (51 cases for age between 21-30, 38 cases for age between 31-40 & 31 cases for age between 41-50); There must be persistent problems for the voters registration to trouble the residents involve to take them over 3 decades to address.

16.  From Finding 5 below, correlation 1 & 2, the correlation between the lack of birth certificate, IC and voter registration become very clear:

  1. Of those who don’t have IC there are at least 55.6% who also don’t have birth certificate. There are other factors which could also cause them not to have an IC but for more than half of the cases the lack of a birth certificate is stopping them to apply for an IC. This is the case from 80’s onwards when a birth certificate is needed to apply for an IC; The average correlation is 61.9% between those who don’t have IC and a birth certificate. In some communities the correlations are higher than 70%(Long Laput and long Pilah)
  2. Of those who don’t apply for voters registration an average of 55.7% also don’t have an IC. This shows that the lack of IC is holding back more than half of the residents here from applying for voter registration. In Long Laput the correlation is as high as 84.2%!

17.  From Finding 5 below, correlation 3, we find that the lack of voter registration as a proportion of the population can be very high-much higher than the average in Sarawak, which is at 31% in a SPR report in 2006. The finding, while only partial figures, suggest that there are many more unregistered voters out there if we have a chance to conduct a more comprehensive survey.

Finding 5: Correlations between No Birth Cert, No IC and No voter registration
Date of survey: Nov 16-20th 2009


(2)No voter registration & no IC(residents with no voter registration)
(1)No IC & no Birth(residents

with  no IC)

(3)Proportion of residents without voters registration surveyed(Estimated population of surveyed settlement)*


Sg Selabau 1 (1)=100% 1 (4)=25%    9.10% (44 adults)
Long Laput 13 (17)=76.5% 16 (19)=84.2% 5.40% (341 adults)**
Long Pilah 20 (28)=71.4% 26 (42)=61.9% 5.80% (720 adults)***
Long Keluan 24 (39)=61.5% 22 (42)=52% 28% (150 adults)
Long San 10 (18)=55.6% 8 (16)-50.0% 40-53% (30-40 adults)****
Long Selatong 0 (1) 0 (6)       not available
Long Beku 5 (9)=55.6% 5 (11)=45.5% 5.50% (200 adults)
Total 70  


78 (140)=55.7% Not available
* The surveyed number of residents for each settlement is not exhaustive due to the following factors:

a.Significant proportion of residents-especially the younger ones, are, as we were told, working in logging camps or towns nearby eg Long San, Marudi; As most of these youths are not registered voters the actual proportion of those not registered as voters due to this reason is significantly higher eg double the surveyed proportion;

b.Some settlements are too big for a total survey to be practical for the short time available eg Long Laput, Long Pilah, Long San(over 1000 residents)-so only a part of it was surveyed; The total unregistered voters can be, for this reason, many times higher than surveyed;

     c. During the afternoon visit to the long house eg Long Selatong, the residents were mostly    

      working in the field (either oil palm or hill paddy) -thus the long house was empty, making it

      not possible for a survey to be carried out fully.

**cover 2 of the 4 long houses
***assuming 4.5 adults /familyX160 units
****Only a Penan community was surveyed


Finding 6: Gender breakdowns on lack of Birth Certificate, IC & voter registration
Date of survey: Nov 16th-20th 2009
No Birth Cert




No voter registration
Settlements M F M F M F
Sg Selabau 3 0 1 0 2 2
Long Laput 8 11 8 9 9 10
Long Pilah 17 15 18 10 24 18
Long Keluan 29 33 14 25 18 24
Long San 12 9 11 8 8 8
Long Selatong 0 2 1 0 5 1
Long Beku 11 8 4 5 7 4
sub-totals 80 78 57 57 73 67







18.  From Finding 5 it appear that the problems of lack of birth certificate, no IC and no voter registration spread rather evenly across the gender divide. The lack of birth certificate shows male outnumber females by 8 cases; the lack of IC shows male and females evenly matched; while the lack of voter registration shows males outnumber females by a mere 6 cases.

      JPN Long Lama


19.  We visited JPN Long Lama to get their views since they had been the target of much complaints from the residents we visited. While the JPN officer insist that the requirement for clinic and home birth are the `same’ we find that the requirements for home births are more complicated. Eg the child deliverer (`Bidan’) is required to sign or provide funger print to testify the child’s birth, and to provide a photocopy of their IC. This requirement can be much more difficult to be complied in the long houses. There are many occasions where the `Bidan’ herself has no IC-as is common in many long houses. The JPN officer said that other `Bidan’ within the same community with IC can sign on behalf of the original `Bidan’ –which ignore the fact that the problems of a lack of IC often affect the entire village.

20.  From the above it become quite unsympathetic for the JPN to impose fine on parents who are late to apply for the child’s birth certificate. Making things worse is that transport is costly and time consuming. The fine for application of birth certificate after 14 days of birth(termed `lewat’) stand at RM5.00 while the fine after 42 days(termed `lambat’) stand at RM10.00 ringgit.

21.  Similar situation is found on application for IC. Fines up to Rm200.00 are imposed by JPN on late applicants. A rate table is provided by JPN. This is most unsympathetic for cash strapped applicants who have to pay high transport costs to come to the JPN office.

22.  The documentation requirement is a challenge to even a legally trained person: eg one of the requirements for late application of birth certificate stated that the IC and Birth Certificates of the applicant’s children are required. But the JPN officer we met insisted that there are laws requiring the same documentation from the applicant’s wife as well.

23.  When asked about the case of the 2 brothers, one with birth cert and another don’t, to be given IC together, the JPN officer said he could not answer why. Then who else can provide the answer?

24.  When asked about the notice to the applicants about the IC which are ready, JPN officer said they can’t send any notice to the long house as they are too far. So it is not accidental that some applicants are kept waiting for years-when they could be the lucky ones whose IC are sitting in the JPN offices uncollected! We were also told, without corroboration, that some residents are made to pay for late collection of their ready IC!

25.  While the JPN officers did try to be friendly and invited us in for clarifying the points we come across from the natives applicants they later request us to refer to higher authorities in Miri and Kuching as they are considered junior officers. Eg they said that they had never been told about the mobile units and are never involved in them. They also said that only higher ranking officers (Grade 22-27) can waive late fee for birth certificate applicants-but there are no such officers in Long Lama JPN office. They did say that they can offer to call Miri and Marudi’s officers for the purpose of waiving the late fees.

26.  Generally we find the JPN Long Lama to be friendly and would like to thank them for their time to answer our queries. However the service can be greatly improved in view of the numerous complaints from the applicants we came across; The services need upgrading to effectively register the admittedly many unregistered citizens it is serving in Baram.

  1. Conclusion and Recommendations


  1. Even though the mission was able to survey only a small part of the entire Baram population we are convinced that there is an exceptionally high number of undocumented citizens in the isolated Baram areas. The significant number of citizens who has not been registered as voters, possibly reaching over 50% in one community that we surveyed, convinced us that the actual proportion could be much higher if we were able to meet the other lot of those who were working in logging camps and in towns. So the concern that there could be rural constituencies which have less than half of their adults registered as voters has been confirmed. We hope that the democratic system in Sarawak –which should have universal sufferage, do not continue to become `demi-cracy’ or 50% democracy where less than half of the adults choose the legislative representatives for the entire constituency, leaving the other half perpetually disenfranchised!
  2. In view of the above conclusion we call upon the authorities concern to mount  a major effort to sign up the residents here as voters so as to make the Sarawak election system here more representative and credible. To make that possible the lack of birth certificate and IC should be addressed as a matter of urgency so that these well recognized citizens of Malaysia will no longer be denied their voice in national affairs and denied their votes in the coming elections. The persistence of these problems over the last 40 over years that Sarawak had become a part of Malaysia should be put to a stop lest the country is accused of deliberately keeping out the voice of its real indigenous citizens.
  3. Penalties for late applications of Birth Certificate and IC from the Sarawak natives should be waived in view of their economic and transport difficulties.
  4. There should be more frequent mobile JPN units visiting the interiors of Sarawak to facilitate more comprehensive registration of the citizens there. The schedule of such visits should be much better publicized to the long houses and rural areas to enable the citizens concerned to take advantage of the vital service.
  5. There should be special training for JPN officers dealing with the natives of Sarawak since there are problems of language and communications between the JPN officers and their clients from the interiors. Effort must be made to take into consideration of the high illiteracy rates in the interior areas and the lack of copying facilities in the interior. The mobile units should be equipped with copiers to enable on-the-spot copying service for the applicants.
  6. There should also be an effort to  simplify the documentations requirements to make the application process most user-friendly. Complicated documentations open opportunities for corruptions where the applicants are made to be slavishly dependent on the processing officers.
  7. There should be a timetable for the processing of the applications, ala Immigration Department, so that the applicants can know with better certainty, when they should come back for collection or for a check. The reasons for rejections should be stated in black and white so that the applicants can, if need be, get help from others to address the problems eg shortage of documents. This measure will address the cases of applicants who are kept in the dark of the status of their application, or those who are asked to reapply, and pay extra for applications!
  8. There should be more `Penolong Pendaftar’ (Assistants to Voters Registrar) appointed  by the SPR especially among civil society members, to help register new voters, who are growing at rates higher than what the Election Commission(SPR) can handle.
  9. There should be long term policies, adequate administrative machineries and budget commitment, and a reasonable time frame to settle most if not all the applications from these indigenous people of Sarawak. Extending their problems is not an option in the interests of improving our democracy.
  10. We call upon the JPN to target the next Sarawak state elections, due by a year’s time, to settle all the birth certificate, IC and voting rights of all native Sarawakians as a way to show respect to the human rights of these unchallenged indigenous citizens.



Prepared by :

Ong Boon Keong,

Coordinator of mission

Malaysian Election Observers Network (MEO-Net)

Delegation members:

Chou Zee Lam, broadcast journalist

Wong Su Ki, on-line journalist

Philip Jau, Miri based land rights activist

Johanes Luwat Ukeng, Long San based land rights activists

Nov 30th 2009







Listing of all surveyed cases



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