People have had to suffer the evil legacy of white cards as successive governments have failed to deal with it, said MP Zaw Myint Pe, a central executive committee (CEC) member of the Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) on February 4.
“There should not be white card holders any longer. White card holders can be found in Kokant region, but the majority of white card holders are in Rakhine State. The government should make a decision about [their citizenship] as quickly as possible,” the MP said.
“In fact, their citizenship is not included in the 1982 Citizenship Law. For many years, there have been illegal migrants entering into the country. It cannot be said that those illegal migrants are Myanmar citizens.
Temporary cards were issued to them. But they are not permanent cards. These cards have a life span. The cards must be renewed when they expire. White card holders are growing older. This amounts to a lack of responsibility by the department concerned as there has been no renewal of white cards. It remains an evil legacy. This can be solved by issuing citizenship cards to citizens and foreign citizen cards to foreigners,” he added.
“White cards were issued to many after the revocation of their national registration cards under the 1982 Citizenship Law. The laws have no consistency. The white card holders are voicing that they lost their citizenship rights. Officials concerned should make a decision about this. White cards holders are fence sitters. They should be either citizens or foreign citizens. The government must make a decision soon.”
“Political parties are vocal on this matter. I think the president’s recommendation is aimed at not removing people’s citizen rights. Critics say it goes against the constitution. The constitutional tribunal will have to decide it. Laws have conflicts. Laws contradict each other. This must be carefully rethought.”
“This issue should be forwarded to the parliament if some laws should be abolished. Under such circumstances, white card holders are likely to become citizens. This problem arises in Kokant region as well. But the number of white card holders in Rakhine State is a bit higher. Now this problem becomes bigger as the authority has turned a blind eye to it for many years.”
“We need to monitor whether or not the [white card holders] will get the voting rights in the upcoming elections. MP Dr Aye Maung pointed out that giving the voting rights to them is not in accord with the constitution. But the commission said it is in conformity with the constitution. This problem should be solved as soon as possible, even though the number of white card holders is small. This evil legacy is bequeathed from generation to generation. There should not be temporary cards any longer,” the MP concluded.
On February 2, the Union parliament voted to grant voting rights to white card holders in the constitutional referendum in accordance with a directive from President Thein Sein.