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With what criteria did the ministry issue over 500,000 White Cards (temporary national registration cards) for Bengalis in 2010?

June 21, 2013

Two state-run Myanmar newspapers, the Myanmar Alin and the Mirror accused the Daily Eleven Newspaper in their June 18 editions for publishing an erroneous story about government plans to amend the 1982 citizenship law. The Daily Eleven headline published on June 13 was titled: “The government plans to amend the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law and submit it to Parliament but most Union Assembly representatives oppose it.”

In response to the accusation, the Daily Eleven showed its stance, strongly rejecting the false allegations in the June 19 edition.

However, the Ministry of Immigration and Population made a clarification again in the state-run newspapers on June 21. The Daily Eleven therefore made the following clarification.

The Daily Eleven has precisely clarified that the news published on June 13 was based on strong and credible sources.

In the first clarification, the Daily Eleven quoted the original wording of Minister Khin Yi as saying that plans are underway to early amend some words, usages and fines prescribed in the 1982 Myanmar Citizenship Law because these points are not appropriate with the current age.” The minister revealed the plans during a Parliamentary session held on November 6, 2012. Therefore, everyone with the knowledge of journalism will know that it is not necessary to ask again.

The ministry also stated in its clarification that reporters from the Daily Eleven failed to get confirmation from the ministry whether or not it is planning to amend and submit the law to Parliament. The Daily Eleven has already mentioned that the news was based on strong and credible sources, including the secretary of the Lower House Joint-Bill Committee.

All have been known that there are some difficulties in getting government sources, including those from some ministries. But the Daily Eleven is grateful to the ministry for opening up ways to ask questions.

As the Daily Eleven did not get confirmation from the ministry as stated in the June 18 editions of the state-owned newspapers, we contacted a high-ranking official on June 19 to reconfirm the minister’s clarification made in Parliament. He replied: “All the details about it are in the newspaper”. He also warned that we do not feature such kind of news again. So, the Daily Eleven kept silent in line with the code of ethics.

In its clarification, the ministry said the media should get confirmations from respective ministries/organizations regarding the news coverage in accord with the points described in the first paragraph of Code of Ethics of Myanmar Press Council (Temporary). However, such points are not clearly stated in the code of ethics. It only states that media must ensure every news item is correct in facts and data and assess them as much as possible.

The Daily Eleven therefore made this clarification that the government’s accusation was wrong because reconfirmation had been made from the ministry on June 19.

Later on, the Daily Eleven will officially ask for sources from ministries about public criticisms and rumours such as bribery and corruption in government ministries and organizations, assets of cabinet members, inappropriate acts of their children and abuse of power. If there is no reply, the Daily Eleven newspaper will feature what questions it has been asked. Moreover, it will carry the questions that the public should know and shoot them directly to government ministries and organizations with a view to helping eliminate corruption and highlight the government’s effort for change and transparency.
The Daily Eleven hereby asks some questions from the Ministry of Immigration and Population:

With what criteria did the ministry issue over 500,000 White Cards (temporary national registration cards) for Bengalis in 2010? Was there any assessment over the citizenship rights in line with 1982 Myanmar citizenship law?

With what decree and limitations did the ministry issue the White Cards, through which votes could be cast in elections according to Section 6 of Lowe House Election Law passed in March, 2010?

As the guest citizens and those holding White Cards had the equal voting of right of a national citizen, millions of eligible voters lost their voting right at that time. If that law continues to exist till 2015, the 1982 citizenship law will be nothing more than a torn paper.

How will the ministry mainly responsible for the issuance of the White Cards address the issue of Rohingya or Bengali?

For Immigration and Population Minister Khin Yi, who was the second most responsible official in the Home Affairs Ministry, does he have plans to legalize the White Cards or give the voting right to the Bengalis or regard them as citizens? This question is more important than whether the 1982 citizenship law will be amended or not.
Were there any corruption cases in issuing the White Cards?voting1

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