HOT ISSUE:MP’s argue against rights afforded to temporary citizens

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Rights offered to temporary citizenship card holders (or white cards) to vote or establish political parties are a threat to Myanmar’s sovereignty, according to some MP’s. 

Critics argue that white cards were issued to Bengalis in Rakhine State by the previous military regime for them to pass the 2008 Constitution. Some estimate white card holders to number over 500,000 in Rakhine State.

Dr. Aye Maung, the chairman of Rakhine Nationalities Development Party, submitted  a bill to amend a provision on citizenship requirements in the Political Parties Registration Law.

The bill was submitted during a parliamentary session of the Upper House in Nay Pyi Taw on August 23. However, MP Hla Swe of the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP) stated his objection saying that the amendments went against the constitution.

Myanmar’s Upper House of Parliament has since suspended the discussion of the bill.

“Such objection is meant not for the national interest but for the ruling party. Don’t think of the party interest, but for the national interest. In other countries, temporary citizenship cards are not allowed to to vote,” said Aye Tha Aung.

The chairman of Chin Nationalities Party, Zo Zam also said that more people may seek temporary citizenship cards if they are allowed to register for the formation of a political party. This could create complications.

“Those holding the white cards are mostly living in Butheetaung and Maungdaw, Rakhine State. If temporary citizenship cards continue to be issued, further complications may arise,” said Zo Zam.

Opposition and 88 Generation student leaders have also argued against the rights provided to white care holders, saying that it affords them the same rights as citizens.

“In any country, a citizen must be faithful to his or her country. Arguments about the citizenship are happening until now. If the citizenship becomes related to the State power, its role will become more important. A citizen needs to be loyal to the country,” said Jimmy of 88 Generation Peace and Open Society.

Zaw Aye Maung, the minister for Rakhine Affairs of Yangon regional government has argued that white cards should be lower than the American equivalent Green Card but non-citizens in the U.S are not allowed to cast the vote. 

The minister added that Myanmar was surrounded by over-populated countries such as Bangladesh, India and China and that if they allowed more white card holders, an alien president could be in power within the next 50 to 100 years.

However others have argued against the 1982 citizenship law for being discriminatory against minorities and advocated for a review.

“It is required to review the citizenship law. Although some nationalities live traditionally through past generations, they don’t become citizens. For instance, Chinese people migrate to Myanmar and immediately become citizens. The government should set standard for citizenship in line with international standards,” said Khun Jar.


read all about white cards

Impact of White Cards holders on Election

In accordance with the international standards, anyone who hasn’t got the citizenship cannot vote. The white card is the temporary registration card and it means there are people who are living in Burma, but their status of citizenship are still not decided yet.

It is wrong to give White card holders rights to vote. We should stop White card holders rights to vote until their status of citizenship are verified in line with 1982 Burma Citizenship Law.

According to the mechanism of UK government census collection system, British government collect all the data of people living in UK, but they give only British citizens rights to vote but not to guests.


ထိုေၾကာင့္အျဖဴေရာင္ကဒ္ျပားကိုင္ဆိုင္သူမ်ားမဲေပးခြင့္ေပးထားျခင္းကို၎တို႔ႏိုင္ငံသားဟုတ္မဟုတ္ကို၁၉၈၂ျမန္မာႏိုင္ငံသားျဖစ္ခြင့္ဥပေဒအရဆုံးျဖတ္ျပီးသည္အထိရပ္ဆိုင္းထားရပါမည္။ ယာယီသက္ေသခံလက္မႇတ္ ကိုင္ေဆာင္ထားသူသည္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲတြင္ ဆႏၵမဲေပးပိုင္ခြင့္ ရႇိေၾကာင္း ျပည္သူ႔လႊတ္ေတာ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲဥပေဒ၊ အမ်ဳိးသားလႊတ္ေတာ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲဥပေဒ၊ တိုင္းေဒသႀကီးလႊတ္ေတာ္ (သို႔မဟုတ္) ျပည္နယ္လႊတ္ေတာ္ ေရြးေကာက္ပြဲ ဥပေဒမ်ား၏ ပုဒ္မ ၆ တြင္ ေဖာ္ျပထားသည္ကိုျပင္ကိုျပင္ဖို့လိုပါတယ္


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?

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