Rangoon Govt Issuing Smart ID Cards to Squatters

By Zue Zue 16 February 2017

RANGOON — The Rangoon divisional government has issued smart ID cards to more than 37,000 squatters’ households, according to divisional lawmaker U Nyi Nyi.

Since September, the new government has been surveying the population of squatters across 13 townships in Rangoon. So far, the program has identified and issued smart cards to 37,524 households in six townships, lawmaker U Nyi Nyi told The Irrawaddy.

“The pilot project was conducted in South Dagon. And then we planned to conduct the survey in 12 more townships, and have completed five townships so far,” said the lawmaker, who represents South Dagon Township.

According to U Nyi Nyi, more than 22,000 people live in 5,591 households in South Dagon Township where the pilot project was conducted.

Surveys have already been completed in Seikkan, North Dagon, East Dagon, North Okkalapa, and Thaketa townships, he added. The government will cover Mayangone, Ahlone, Thanlyin, Kyauktan, Dala, Shwepyithar, and Hlaing Tharyar townships before the overall survey project is completed.

There have been complaints that some recipients of the new smart ID cards have pawned the cards to get immediate cash to solve their daily problems.

“In Ward No. 93, many of the smart card holders pawned their cards for between 50,000 to 100,000 kyats [$37-74 US dollars], as they need the money,” said Daw Sandaw Win, a squatter in Seikkan Township.

“But as far as I know, no one is selling their cards for some large offer like 1 million kyats [$740],” she told The Irrawaddy.

Lawmaker U Nyi Nyi said he had received complaints about pawning and selling of cards. He plans to investigate the matter and report to the division chief minister.

The smart cards employ high technology, and people who tried to profit by selling the cards would probably get nothing, U Nyi Nyi said.

“There have been many previous examples of selling certificates. So the chief minister asked us to operate this program in cooperation with IT experts.

These cards include fingerprints and detailed data from the squatter families. So even if the whole family comes and gives their fingerprints, we will surely find out later,” said U Nyi Nyi.

The smart cards include bar codes, fingerprints, and photos. Many of the smart card recipients hope to use the cards to obtain apartments from the government in the future. They will be given apartments only when their fingerprints match what is on the smart cards.

Translated from Burmese by Thet Ko Ko