Fanciful MyKad not a cut above the rest

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NOV 27 — Imagine if you owned a Ferrari. You would think twice before going to a wet market. You would think three times if you wanted to drive it to Petaling Street for some charcoal stir-fried Hokkien Mee since there are no proper parking spaces. You would not bother driving it along Jalan Ampang from 7am to 8.45am on a weekday as you would only be travelling at less than 30kmph.

So it’s best you kept it at home where your neighbours admire it.

Now let’s look at the Malaysian identity card called MyKad.

It is technologically superior to any form of identification prior to 2001. It is able to store numerous details including driving licences, Touch ‘n Go and is even capable of doubling up as an ATM card.

MyKad was considered a breakthrough. Malaysia was hailed for introducing the world’s first national smart scheme to store biometric data on an in-built microchip by science portal on September 21, 2001.

An expert in computer security at Cambridge University Ross Anderson was then quoted on the website saying smart cards may make forging ID cards harder but they are unlikely to provide a complete solution.

“You can maybe exert some downward pressure on identity theft by incorporating machine-readable fingerprints of some kind or other,” Anderson said.

“But, in this situation, making identity cards harder to forge is solving the wrong problem.”

Just like a Ferrari in Malaysia, a MyKad seems to be just a fancy identification card best parked in one’s wallet.

Despite being “tamper-proof” as often stressed by the National Registration Department (NRD), we still hear cases of foreigners nabbed in possession of MyKad and tampered identification cards.

In 2011, I exposed a land scam deal in Bukit Jelutong and obtained a tampered MyKad and driving licence. The details on both documentations were that of Datin Munira Sujak but the picture did not match. Munira was unaware her identification card and driving licence were used by fraudsters to sell her land, without her knowledge.

Her details were also used to open a bank account at a branch in Taman Tun Dr Ismail with active transactions in Penang. She was shocked.

The Malay Mail, had on Monday, revealed it was easy to obtain a MyKad. This came about after the Dewan Rakyat was informed more than half a million MyKad were reported missing from January 1 to October 31. That averages to almost 2,000 missing cards a day.

Our journalist went to the NRD branch in Rawang and applied for a MyKad, claiming he had “misplaced” his card which he had just renewed hardly two months ago as his car was broken into.

Without the need of lodging a police report and filling any forms, he obtained his temporary identification paper within an hour.

What if someone, who claims to have “misplaced” his or her MyKad, sold it to a third party for a quick buck? I will never know if someone, who had stolen my identification card some nine years ago, could be using my details while leading a low-profile life in Tawau.

Since there is no need to lodge a police report for a “misplaced MyKad”, wouldn’t this encourage more people to sell their details out of desperation?

The large number of citizens “losing” their MyKad shows many among us take the card for granted.

Haven’t we heard of cases where a vagrant is picked up, given a sum of cash to dress up smartly and open a bank account but to allow a third party to hold the ATM card and conduct transactions?

The MyKad has been around for more than a decade and yet when the police or Road Transport Department conducts operations, the officers merely read the details on the card and do not verify the information through a card reader.

In fact, you will not be checked unless you are on a motorcycle or “look suspicious”.

It has been 12 years since the MyKad was launched with several versions introduced along the way. Yet, many among us would prefer carrying our driving licence and bank cards — not because we prefer our wallets to be bulkier but simply because the ecosystem has yet to fully embrace the technological superiority of the MyKad.

Just like a Ferrari, one is unable to push the machine to its limits if the roads are filled with potholes and there are no proper parking facilities at the end of the journey.

Let’s take our MyKad seriously and use it to its fullest potential. This is, after all, about national security.

* This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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