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5 November, 2019 00:00 00 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 4 November, 2019 11:51:35 PM
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Expatriate voter registration begins in Malaysia today

10 lakh expatriate Bangladeshis in the country to get NID cards for the first time
Harun Ur Rashid, Dhaka

Around 10 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates living in Malaysia will get their national identity (NID) cards for the first time thanks to initiatives taken by the Election Commission (EC). Commission sources said the eligible expatriates would be able to register their information through an online web portal. Later, the commission would centrally assess the information prior to taking photos, fingerprints, and images of the iris. The EC’s technical team would go there to collect the biometric information from the eligible expatriates, according to the sources. The EC would launch the web portal today to begin initiatives of registering the voters. Anyone who is found to be an eligible voter will get the chance to register his/her personal data through the online portal.

Chief election commissioner KM Nurul Huda would launch the expatriate voter registration programme through video conference from the Election Bhaban in the capital. During the launch, all election commissioners, the EC secretary, and the director general of the NID wing, among others, would be present.

NID director (operations) Abdul Baten told The Independent yesterday: “It was a longstanding demand of the expatriates to be included in the voter list. It’s going to start from Tuesday. All eligible persons would be able to apply online for voter registration. The EC will launch a web portal for this purpose.”

“As per our estimate, there are around 10 lakh Bangladeshi expatriates in Malaysia. It’s a big task and we have started it at last,” he added.

EC sources said initiatives to register expatriates in the voter list had been taken by the two previous commissions, but the move failed to make headway due to various reasons.

A large number of expatriates are currently living abroad and contributing to the country’s economy. But they are deprived of their voting rights during elections.

The sources said they wanted to issue NID cards to all Bangladeshi expatriates living in various countries. Before starting the initiative, the EC wanted to begin the voter registration in Singapore, but it was not possible. Finally, the commission has been able to start it in Malaysia.

Sources say the EC would extend the initiative to other countries such as Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Bahrain.

NID Wing sources said they would first issue the NID cards to expatriates because they suffered in many ways when trying to buy land and property, open bank accounts, and get driving licences in Bangladesh.The expatriates without NID cards cannot open any accounts in any bank in the country. They even face problems in sending remittances to Bangladesh through banks. This forces many to send money through illegal channels and the government loses out on earning huge revenue.

Sources said since these people send their hard-earned money to Bangladesh, they had every right to elect their representatives to Parliament.

The sources said the expatriates would be issued the NID cards first, but it was difficult to say when they would be able to cast votes from abroad. This would depend on the EC’s decision, the sources added.

The EC said about 1.16 crore Bangladeshi expatriates were currently living in 159 countries. While living abroad, many people face various risks due to the complexity of proving their legal identity. Problems arise when they have to seek medical help, or are arrested, jailed, subjected to political harassment, meet accidents, or die. The NID card would remove such vulnerabilities.

The commission started issuing NID cards with photos in 2008. At that time, two election commissioners had travelled abroad to conduct a feasibility study with the hope of providing NID cards to expatriate Bangladeshis so that they could vote during elections.

Later, the related laws were amended in 2010 to make Bangladeshi expatriates voters.

 

 

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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman

Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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