Interior Minister Sar Kheng yesterday said the progress of issuing identification cards for citizens has been slow due to the country’s political situation and last year’s national election.
Addressing challenges in the third meeting of the national committee of Population Density, Identification and Population Density Statistics yesterday, Mr Kheng said the problem of issuing identification cards had been unforeseen.
“The slowness was not because officials did not care, but it was because of the political and social situation in the country,” he said, “Our officials were also busy with the elections and the government’s priority tasks.”
Mr Kheng said defining individual identities is the core task of the government and that officials must work hard to address problems according to the situation on the ground in Cambodia, as well as its international obligations.
He appealed to all officials to actively perform their duties, especially when it comes to offering public services to citizens.
“All officials must be active in issuing ID cards and supplying an authorisation letter to people in a professional way,” Mr Kheng said. “Do not overplay your roles which might anger citizens,” he said.
Top Neth, spokesman of the Interior Ministry’s general identification department, said GID issued some 10.6 million new IDs to Cambodians up until last year.
He added that this year, the department plans to issue nearly 400,000 new ID cards to those who meet the age requirement and first-time applicants.
Mr Kheng yesterday noted that a draft law on Population Density, Identification and Population Density Statistics is currently wide open for more input.
“At this point, we are making reforms and strengthening our work. It does not mean that we redo the work all over again […] what is unclear, we must edit and change,” he said, “The draft law must not oppose other existing laws.”
According to Mr Kheng, the bill serves specifically to ensure the registration of births, deaths, marriages and other population density-related data in Cambodia.
However, Mr Neth noted that the draft law is currently 50 percent complete, although it was scheduled to be done by last year.
“The draft law was supposed to have been finished by the end of 2018, but our officials could not manage it,” Mr Neth said, “This is the reason why the Interior Minister appealed to our officials to speed things up.”
Chan Sotheavy, a secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, said the draft law required discussion by a working group of relevant parties since it affected people’s daily lives.
“There was no law which dealt in detail about this matter, that’s why the progress of drafting the bill fluctuates and requires changes sometimes to reflect the current situation,” Ms Sotheavy said.