Single Father

I have recently found out that in order to register a new born child with our National Registration Department (JPN), a number of documents need to be submitted, including a marriage certificate. I was told, on authority, that without a marriage cert, it may not be possible for the father to have his name listed as the father of the child. I was also told that this policy is something recent and things were not like this in the past.

Mater semper certa; pater est quem nuptiae demonstrant.
Mother is always certain; the father is whom the marriage shows

To me, that just does not quite make sense. It may have been true in the past, when proof of biological parentage was difficult to obtain. However, DNA tests have changed all that. It is fairly simple to prove that someone is a biological father of a child. Therefore, it does not make sense to me, that such a policy is now in place when it was not in the past.

So, the fact that a man is the biological father of a child is less important than he being married to the mother of the child. It does not matter if the child is carrying your genes or otherwise, as long as you are legally bound to the mother. If any sort of statistics are to be trusted, many men are not biological fathers of their own children anyway.

If our government denies the biological father the right to list himself down as the legal father of the child on the birth cert, is our government denying him some form of fundamental right? I’m too naive on issues of human rights and such. Therefore, I don’t really know so much about these things. But somehow, I just think that something does not smell quite right.

I can imagine one very sad scenario, where a new born child of a single mother who died at childbirth is considered an orphan because the father was not married to the mother. It doesn’t matter if the father was present and loves him very much. But because the father failed to get himself legally married, the child is now considered an orphan. This just sounds a bit screwy to me.

Anyway, I was just ranting off. I have a feeling that this is a bubble waiting to burst. As far as I understand it, there are many people who are not ‘legally’ married in Malaysia. Of course, everyone should get their marriages registered. However, this does not stop them from happily procreating. There may be some problems, particularly if the mother was a foreigner, with citizenship issues.

And if this is not something that is written in Law, and turns out to be the workings of some little Napolean in the government, then it is even worse. If JPN wants to insist on some sort of proof of being the father, I suggest that they insist on giving everyone a DNA check. Unfortunately, that opens up a whole other can of worms.

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Shawn Tan

Chip Doctor, Chartered Engineer, Entrepreneur, Law Graduate.

3 thoughts on “Single Father”

  1. Oddly, I was having a discussion with Allan over a similar issue a couple of days ago. Apparently it used to be that in Hong Kong single mothers couldn’t put the name of the child’s father down on the birth certificate. Whether it was a punishment for the girl becoming pregnant out of wedlock, or a way of naming-and-shaming I’m not sure. This however was back in the 50s or 60s where it was seen as a disgrace to be a single mother. However, given that a man/boy was involved too, I never understood why all the shame should be given to the woman. We may not consider it shameful now, but perceptions are based on the current culture. Perhaps the view amongst the Malay culture is that if the father wanted to be known, he should do what they consider ‘the honourable thing’ and marry the mother? Given that Muslims are allowed more than one wife, there ‘shouldn’t’ be a problem, unless of course the woman is already married. But by Islamic law, adultery is a sin in any case. But then the woman’s husband is put down on the birth certificate.

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