So my wife has recently given birth to a baby girl and I just wanted to show off our new baby.
Baby-bragging aside, here are some fascinating things I learnt in the process of registering my daughter with the Malaysian National Registration Department (NRD).
Fact 1: Apparently, before one registers a new born’s name, one has to come up with a name for the new born.
It is a VERY IMPORTANT civil right for every child to have a legally registered name and nationality from the moment of birth. Because once a baby is registered as human, the baby has human rights! Rights such as access to education, healthcare and protection services.
This right is specifically enshrined in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (“CRC”), which was recognized by the Malaysian government in 1995.
To ensure that every child born in Malaysia bears a name and identity, the Births and Deaths Registration Act 1957 requires that every child born in Malaysia (including abandoned and illegitimate child) must be registered in Malaysia.
Morbid fact: This extends to include whether the child is born alive or death.
Fact 2: Upon registration, the NRD will issue a Birth Certificate.
This is a super important document as it is the prerequisite for a child to apply for an identity card when he/she is 12 years old.
But other than the birth certificate, the NRD will also issue your child a MyKID card.
Image from Malaysia CentralWhich is kind of like an identity card with a chip but for kids under the age of 12. They will need to use the MyKID card when dealing with government agencies, hospitals or clinics as well as schools.
When the child turns 12, he or she will have to upgrade to a MyKad.
Here are some mad facts about birth certs:
- You must register your new born’s name within 14 days from the date of birth (although an amendment was made THIS YEAR to increase this to 60 days, but the amendment has not come into force yet so it’s still 14 days for now)
- You must bring a confirmation of birth form from the hospital or if you deliver at home, a certification of home birth from the midwife/doctor and a prenatal card/maternity examination book. This is to make sure that you didn’t just snatch the baby from the storks or something.
As for the parents, bring your ICs and a copy of the marriage certificate. If the spouse is no longer alive or is a divorcee, then a copy of the death certificate or divorce certificate is required.
- If you delay in registering but it’s within the 15th to the 42th day after the birth of the baby, there is a penalty of RM5.
- If you delay for more than 42 days, you will need to explain to the NRD (and you better have good reasons lol) and a penalty of a maximum RM50 will be imposed.
Moral of the story: DON’T BE LATE.
Fact 3: Illegitimate children can later be legitimized
If you have an illegitimate baby, only the mother’s name will be registered in the register of birth. But if the biological father subsequently wants to enter his name into the register, he will have to make a joint application together with the mother.
Fact 4: There is actually a list of banned names!
Here’s where it gets REALLY interesting.
Back in August 2006, the NRD released a list of “undesirable” names for Malays, Indians and Chinese.
For Malays, you cannot name your child:
- Zaniah (female adulterer)
- Woti (sexual intercourse)
- Hitam and Putih
For Chinese, names like this are prohibited:
- Ah Kow (dog)
- Chai Too (pig)
- Kai Chai (chick)
- Sor Chai (insane)
- Sum Seng (gangster)
Whilst for Indians, these names are “undesirable”:
- Karruppan (black fellow)
- Sivappi and Vellayan (fair)
- Pitchaikaran (beggar)
Apparently, long long time ago, the Chinese community believed that these “undesirable” names could ward off evil spirits and bad luck, but I am not sure if today’s parents would still name their babies after these “popular” names.
The NRD also said parents were not allowed to name their child after animals, insects, fruits, vegetables or colours, and went further to say that names such as Zero Zero Seven (007), Hitler, Stalin were prohibited.
You cannot also name your child Proton Saga or Honda Tan. Although we are not too sure as to how this guy managed to get it through the NRD…
The list came as a response to the growing number of Malaysians who are applying to change their birth names.
The intention is really to protect the poor child from getting teased or ridiculed when he or she grows up.
And it appears that Malaysia is not the only country that has done that. At least 12 other countries have baby naming laws, according to The Washington Post. For example, Metallica, Superman, Ikea and Elvis are banned in Sweden; Osama bin Laden and Adolf Hitler are banned in Germany; Mona Lisa is banned in Portugal; Harry Potter, James Bond are banned in Mexico; Justice, King, Prince, Princess, President and even Christ are banned in New Zealand.
Fact 5: There’s still a chance to change the name of your child if inspiration hits you with a cooler name.
The law allows you to amend or change the registered name of your child within 1 year from the date of birth of the child. No questions asked.
If you subsequently found out that there are clerical or factual errors entered in the register of birth, perhaps due to incorrect or unavailable information at that time, you can still apply to the NRD to amend the errors.
Bonus Fact: What if I am like… 30 YEARS late?
If you intend to completely change the name of your identity card, here’s what you can do:
- Fill out a form.
- Affirm a Statutory Declaration stating that you have absolutely renounced and abandoned the use of your former name and have assumed a new name. And you should totally find a lawyer to help you with this.
- (This is provided that the purpose of your change is not to avoid detection of your true identity or escape legal liabilities).
Naming your child is an important responsibility.
It will be a reflection of the child’s identity which he carries with him for the rest of his life. So name your babies right, and register them to protect their right to identity.
This article was written by Edwin Lee, co-founder of CanLaw. Edwin and his wife have recently been blessed with a baby girl, and it is their hope that baby Jolene will grow up in a just and fair world, where justice prevails over injustice, peace prevails over chaos and truth and love prevail over lies and hatred.