kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

Valuing the IC

IN Western democracies, the concept of a national identity card, with which to register, identify, and track the movement of every resident within the country, is seen as a violation of the right to privacy and freedom from big government. In Malaysia, however, the identity card, which has been in existence for nearly 60 years, is one of the givens in life. In fact, to have one -- whether as a citizen or permanent resident -- is considered a privilege. Having a MyKad is an official acknowledgment of legitimacy.

The identity card was introduced by the British in the 1950s during its war against communist insurgents. Everyone in the then Malaya had to register and was given an IC that stated his name and permanent residence, and contained his photograph and fingerprints. Communist insurgents, however, dared not register. Possession of an IC thus served to identify lawful citizens, as it has done to this day. Though communism is no longer a threat to the country, every person is still required by law to carry a MyKad on his person at all times, and if asked to produce it for inspection by a law enforcement officer, has to produce it. Failure to carry or produce a MyKad can result in imprisonment for up to three years, or a fine of up to RM20,000, or both, upon conviction. It is also an offence for anyone but the owner of a MyKad to hold on to it -- even if it is given voluntarily.

That 102 MyKad were found strewn on a road in Kedah over the weekend is astonishing. Could these MyKad have become parted from their owners through theft or loan-sharking? A MyKad is more than just for identification; in many respects, it is a means by which to exist. Without it, a person cannot apply for a job, buy a house or a car, take out a loan, apply for a permit or a licence, claim parcels from the post office, vote, and, theoretically at least, buy alcohol or cigarettes. Anyone in possession of it has possession of the identity that comes with it. Yet, in March, the Home Ministry requirement for a police report to accompany an application for a replacement MyKad was scrapped, ostensibly to cut down on red tape and costs. Prior to this, the very thought of going through the bureaucratic hassle of making a police report was reasonably sufficient to make people dread losing their MyKad. Now, the costs may have been reduced, but has the value been, too?

Visit Jabatan Pendaftaran Negara For MyKad

Source: The NST Home OPED 2011/09/20
Tags: history, ic, mykad

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