Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that the new cards have been issued since June under the collaboration between the Malaysian government and UNHCR. — file picturePUTRAJAYA, Aug 18 ― The Malaysian government is collaborating with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) to issue new refugee identification cards with high security features, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.
Zahid, who is also home minister, announced that the new cards have been issued since June under the collaboration between the Malaysian government and UNHCR.
“The issuance of the card will go through tight screening steps. Therefore, the process of replacing the old UNHCR cards will take a bit of time.
“This move is intended to tackle the problem of the issuance of fake UNHCR cards,” he said in a statement today after chairing a meeting on UNHCR-related issues.
Zahid also said a joint task force will be formed in which the UNHCR and Malaysia will work together to register and issue the new cards, but said the process of determining refugee status remains fully under the organisation based on the UN’s 1951 Refugee Convention and the 1967 Protocol.
The joint task force comprised senior officers from the Home Ministry, the National Security Council, the Foreign Affairs Ministry and UNHCR, he said.
On June 21, UNHCR Malaysia representative Richard Towle launched the new card with better security features to overcome past weaknesses that allowed counterfeiting.
According to a New Straits Times’ report then, Towle had said the new card is backed by better biometric data collection, besides including security features such as 3D holograms and bar codes.
The UNHCR had also launched the UNHCR VERIFY-MY mobile application, which Towle said would enable local enforcement agencies or those doing UNHCR work to scan the “Secure Quick Response” (SQR) code on the new cards to verify their authenticity.
UNHCR’s Senior Protection Officer (Oversight) Michael Wells had said the old version of the card was easier to replicate, while the new card had one of the best technologies globally with a biometric scan of fingers, face and retina.
The NST had earlier this year reported that there are syndicates selling counterfeit UNHCR cards ― that are only meant for verified refugees and asylum seekers ― to illegal immigrants.