By Saksith Saiyasombut

One of the more smaller news stories of recent weeks was the new Identification Card Act. A main aspect of the act was to issue ID cards to children as young as seven, where previously the mandatory age to carry identification was 15. The only English language news source I found was this one, but only mentioned as a side note.

The question many might ask is why young kids need to carry an ID card with them around the time. There’re many countries in the world, e.g. Germany where I live, that requires its citizens and residents to carry own an ID card and there’re as many countries that don’t have that and a driver’s license or similar documents are totally sufficient. But seven-year-old kids…?

One possible, admittedly tongue-in-cheek, explanation is by the always funny satirical online show “เจาะข่าวตื้น” (“Jo Khao Dtuen”, roughly translated to “In-Shallow News”) with John Winyu, as seen in the latest edition, beginning at 8:49 minutes:

Hm, let‘s take that news here: “The Department of Provincial Administration under the Ministry of Interior has insisted that seven year old children should have an ID card is a necessity for the majority and a benefit for the children, apart from [having] a document with a photo, it is beneficial when making use of public services, for example public health services and…” erm, that‘s it – “public health services! And most importantly, it can be used for identification. When making an ID card, the name, address, the mother‘s name, the father‘s name, the photo, fingerprints are registered and nobody can subrogate the rights of the children.”

The important thing is that there are 8 million children aged 7-14 nationwide. The cost for an ID card is 100 Baht, that makes 800 million Baht. When the cards are out, the printer damaged, you’d have to take a [temporary] yellow slip for the mean time. The cost of a [temporary] yellow slip is 10 Baht. When you have the yellow slip and pick up the real ID card it costs another 100 Baht and if you do this too late, it costs another 100 baht fine per person.

In any case, please help the government. [We] borrowed a lot of money [from other places] and used it very wisely: more than a billion in a day! 800 million baht – mhhh – that‘s probably gone with one breath – woooshh!

From: “เจาะหูรูดตูดระบมจมน้ำตา“, เจาะข่าวตื้น/ihere.tv, June 4, 2011 (transcripted and translated by me)

The riff by John Winyu rings some truth about the ID card issues that plagued citizens last year. The introduction of the so called “smart cards” with embedded microchips was accompanied by a lot of problems. The mess reached it’s climax last year when:

Since the beginning of this year, Thai citizens who applied for their first national identity card or who applied to have their ID card renewed, have been issued with a yellow slip instead of the new microchip-embedded “smart” cards. The reason behind the problem is that the Interior Ministry refused to accept the new “smart” cards which were supplied by the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology, claiming that they did not meet the prescribed specifications stipulated in the ministerial regulation.

The silly saga of ‘smart’ cards“, Bangkok Post, December 9, 2010

The reason behind it was a political proxy tussle between the Bhumjaithai-led Interior Ministry and the Democrat’s MICT.

Hopefully when they introduce the children ID cards, they’ll be better prepared this time – unless the authorities find a way to hand out yellow slips again. But on the other hand: Honi soit qui mal y pense!

Saksith Saiyasombut is a Thai blogger and journalist still based in Hamburg, Germany. He can be followed on Twitter @Saksith.