A Shan State MP says that brokers are ‘taking advantage’ of ethnic people in remote areas applying for ID cards.
Burma’s anti-corruption commission announced this week that it is taking legal action against immigration officers in northern Shan State’s Lashio Township for reportedly accepting bribes.
In a statement released on June 12, the commission said that after concluding a preliminary investigation, it was charging seven staff members in the Lashio office of the labor, immigration, and population ministry—and one broker—with violating the anti-corruption law. The statement accused the individuals of accepting money from people who were applying for their national ID cards and family registration documents.
Lashio MP Sai Wan Liang Kham said that most locals in the area belong to ethnic nationality communities and many are unable to communicate in Burmese. They therefore depend on brokers when they apply for their identity documents.
“Brokers are taking advantage of them. Some brokers take a small amount of money but some brokers take more money,” he told SHAN, speculating that brokers reported each other to the anti-corruption commission. He also said that immigration officers were failing to issue national ID cards “in line with principles.”
As Lashio is the center of the district by the same name, it is here that residents apply for their ID cards at the immigration office. Sai Wan Liang Kham said that it continues to be difficult for people in rural areas to come to the city to do the application process.
“Many villagers who live in remote areas don’t have their national ID cards… I think it will take time to make a ‘one-stop-service’ for national ID cards in remote areas. We are looking for ways to issue national ID cards for villagers,” he explained.
Those being sued by the anti-corruption commission include the manager, deputy manager and assistant manager of the Lashio immigration department, as well as other staff. They are accused of accepting 1 million kyat (US$654) in bribes in exchange for issuing IDs and family registration. The broker in question is accused of accepting between 500,000 and 1 million kyat from people in exchange for applying for the documents.