Minister: Malaysia eager to swap MyKad with India’s Aadhar biometric ID system

Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the new system would help the federal government avoid duplicity and fraud in delivering welfare schemes and government subsidies. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said the new system would help the federal government avoid duplicity and fraud in delivering welfare schemes and government subsidies. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 15 — Putrajaya is keen to update its MyKad identification card system with something similar to India’s sophisticated Aadhar model that uses unique random 12-digit numbers, Human Resources Minister M. Kulasegaran said.

In a report by Indian news agency PTI yesterday, the minister said the new system would help the federal government avoid duplicity and fraud in delivering welfare schemes and government subsidies.

“We met UIDAI CEO Ajay Bhushan Pandey... We have identity cards, but with the [introduction of an Aadhaar-like] system, the primary aim is to avoid duplicity of payments and fraud, and to target specific groups,” he was reported saying.

UIDAI refers to the Unique Identification Authority of India, whose expertise has been offered by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to Malaysia in May.

Kulasegaran had led a delegation comprising representatives from Bank Negara Malaysia, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Economic Affairs, and Human Resources Ministry to India last week over the matter, following the Cabinet’s endorsement.

The Aadhaar is the world’s largest biometric ID system, with World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer reportedly describing it as “the most sophisticated ID programme in the world”.

Kulasegaran also suggested that Malaysia will explore the possibility of linking the identification system to bank accounts — like how it was done with Aadhar — for target delivery of welfare schemes and subsidies.

“Now, we have fuel subsidy in my country. Everybody gets fuel subsidy. We want to target certain groups and give it to them, not to others. We have different groups like B40 — those who earn household income of less than RM3,990,” he reportedly said, in addition to making cashless subsidies delivery.

“Right now we send cheques or we give cash. No need of that if you follow the Aadhaar system, and it comes directly into your account.”

Kulasegaran admitted that Malaysian may oppose the system over privacy concerns like Indians did, but downplayed the situation as Malaysians have used the MyKad containing their personal information for decades.

“You put my ID card number, you will get my details, where I was born, who is my mother, who is my father,” he was quoted saying.

The Indian Supreme Court has been hearing several cases arguing concerns of privacy, surveillance, profiling, and security involving the Aadhar system.