Fri, 07 Mar 2003

Each citizen to be given single identification number

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government is preparing a new demographic system that will provide each citizen with a single identification number for various administrative purposes from birth to death.

Speaking at a press conference that followed a cabinet meeting on Thursday, Minister of Home Affairs Hari Sabarno said the system would simplify the current system.

"That serial number will be used on all kinds of identification cards, such as driving licenses, passports and other documents like birth certificates," Hari said.

The number will be attached to a citizen forever, even if he or she dies.

"The identification number of a deceased cannot be used by other citizens," Hari said.

Currently the country uses more than 50 tables to identify its citizens by their place of birth, residence and other qualifications.

The identification number will begin with the code area of his or her birth place and residence in order to monitor a citizen's movements.

"People could migrate across the country, but their citizen identification number should remain," the minister said.

Possessing more than one identity card (KTP) or even passport is not impossible in the country due to the lack of coordinated data of citizens.

Many foreigners easily obtain fake Indonesian identification, opening the possibility for notorious criminals, including drug traffickers, to seek sanctuary in the country.

The government has tried to curb such practices and keep track of the movement of its citizens by issuing stringent regulations.

"Off course we will introduce the system gradually as it will be impossible to change the current demographic administration immediately," Hari said.

The minister failed to elaborate on the time table to introduce the system, that will be on line across the country, saying it will take more than five years to do so.

"Such a system requires telephone lines and electricity in every regency, and so far only 45 out of 410 regencies are ready for the system," the minister said.

The absence of telephone lines should not be a major problem as at the same time the ministry of telecommunications and transportation has been preparing to install the lines in all regencies by 2005.

Regardless of such hindrances, the government will start collecting data on the country's citizens during the voter registration ahead of the 2004 election.

The ministry of home affairs will cooperate with the General Election Commission (KPU) and local administrations to collect the data, he added.