Identification Cards To Give Foreigners Voting, Property Rights

Authorities in Koh Kong and Phnom Penh have begun issuing Cambodian identification cards to foreigners living in Cambodia—mostly nationals from neighboring Asian countries—giving them greater freedom to move across borders as well as voting rights, officials said Monday.

The cards also grant foreigners the right to own property and run businesses.

Koh Kong will issue the identification cards to foreigners living in Koh Kong if they have lived in the area since 1979 or if one of their parents is a Cambodian national who has lived in the area for a long time.

“It is often too difficult to [differentiate] the Thais from the Cambodians because some of the Thai foreigners in Koh Kong have lived in the area for a long time, speak Khmer clearly, practice Buddhism and live the Khmer lifestyle,” said Kao Kay, a police official for Koh Kong province.

Kao Kay said many Thais in Koh Kong are business people who cross the border to Thailand frequently. This card will give the Thais more freedom to move across the border because they do not have to abide by border restrictions such as returning to Cam­bodia by 5 pm, as is mandated by the current law, Kao Kay said.

Phnom Penh officials said the child of a foreigner can receive an identification card if at least one of the child’s parents is a Cambodian national.

A foreigner who has lived in Phnom Penh since 1979 will not be allowed to get a Cambodian identification card unless the person has a voter registration card issued by Untac in 1993.

Officials stressed that they have been cracking down on people selling or manufacturing fake identification cards in Phnom Penh. Pum Virak, deputy chief for the Phnom Penh Municipality Statistics and Identification bureau, said the new identification cards will have a hologram of Angkor Wat, which most fake identification cards do not have.

National police Chief Hok Lundy said the government will scan photos and fingerprint anyone who is issued an identification card. “I don’t think anyone will be able to produce fake identification cards because the real ones look like credit cards,” he said.


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