The recent case of an art director in Peninsular Malaysia shows that the National Registration Act's rule to have religion on the MyKad (national registration card) is of no use. In the case of the late Mohan Singh, whose body is still kept at a hospital mortuary pending the outcome of a court decision to see whether he would be buried as a Muslim or cremated as a Sikh.
The Islamic religious authorities claim that he had converted to Islam before he died and had therefore to be buried as a Muslim. His family on the other hand claims that he was a practising Sikh all his life. If the Islamic religious authorities get their way, the estate that Mohan left behind would not go to his family, but would be claimed by the Islamic authorities.
What is peculiar about the case is that on Mohan's MyKad, the word "Islam" is absent. "Islam" is printed on the MyKads of all Malaysian Muslims. The NRD database also shows his religion as being Sikhism. Now, if the MyKad shows that he is not a Muslim, why is there a necessity to claim that he is?
This shows that there is something clearly wrong with the National Registration Act and the National Registration Department.
Perhaps, it is time to have a law that would allow dead people to be given a funeral according to the rites of the religion of their immediate family members. Or perhaps, when applying for a MyKad, Malaysians should fill a form to say how they wish to be buried if they die.
Whatever it is, one thing for sure is that NRD is really confusing us. On one hand, if a person is a non-Muslim but has the word "Islam" wrongly printed on his MyKad, he cannot change it and has to go through the lengthy process of dealing with religious authorities.
On the other hand, if a person is a non-Muslim and has his religion correctly recorded as such, it can still be questioned!