Speaker re­quests up­date on NRC checks

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - HTOO THANT thanhtoo@mm­times.com – Trans­la­tion by Win Thaw Tar

The lower house Speaker yes­ter­day ex­pressed con­cerns about the law­ful­ness of a Na­tional Regis­tra­tion Card scru­tiny cam­paign.

PYITHU Hlut­taw Speaker U Win Myint has called on the min­is­ter for labour, im­mi­gra­tion and pop­u­la­tion to en­sure that on­go­ing ver­i­fi­ca­tion of Na­tional Regis­tra­tion Cards (NRCs) is be­ing con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with the law.

Be­fore the 1990 elec­tion, the Min­istry of Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion launched a scheme to is­sue NRCs to ev­ery per­son aged 18 and over who was en­ti­tled to vote. In or­der to do so, they used vol­un­teer as­sis­tance as they did not have enough staff to com­plete the task, and more than a quar­ter cen­tury later, the govern­ment is con­duct­ing checks of NRC cards to ver­ify that they were prop­erly is­sued.

Min­is­ter for Labour, Im­mi­gra­tion and Pop­u­la­tion U Thein Swe yes­ter­day made the case for the need for NRC scru­tiny.

“At that time, there was not enough scru­tiny. The main aim was to is­sue NRC cards be­fore the elec­tion,” he said dur­ing a ses­sion of the Pyithu Hlut­taw. “It is pos­si­ble that peo­ple were in­cor­rectly is­sued NRC cards. Al­most ev­ery­one 18 and over was is­sued a card at that time.”

Un­der min­istry in­struc­tions, of­fi­cials are also cur­rently scru­ti­n­is­ing ap­pli­ca­tions for re­place­ment cards or ap­pli­ca­tions for NRCs for chil­dren.

U Win Myint said that al­though ver­i­fi­ca­tion of NRCs is in it­self good pol­icy, vig­i­lance is needed in the face of po­ten­tial cor­rup­tion.

“We know that these in­struc­tions have been is­sued for good rea­sons but those re­spon­si­ble need to make sure the checks are be­ing con­ducted ap­pro­pri­ately. The [staff] get a chance to act cor­ruptly be­cause of these in­struc­tions,” he said.

The Speaker said there had been al­le­ga­tions of bribery within the of­fices of of­fi­cials charged with car­ry­ing out the NRC checks. “The process causes cor­rup­tion. De­gen­er­ate em­ploy­ees have asked for bribes of up to K100,000 [US$81],” he said.

In re­sponse, the min­is­ter for labour, im­mi­gra­tion and pop­u­la­tion said the pub­lic should re­port any cor­rupt be­hav­iour such as bribe-tak­ing or de­lay­ing of ap­pli­ca­tions if money is not pro­vided. He said staff who are found to be en­gaged in this type of mis­con­duct would be sacked or even im­pris­oned.

At this point, it is es­ti­mated that over 20,000 NRC checks have been con­ducted in Yan­gon alone.

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