Ministries looking into biometric identity cards for foreign students

KUALA LUMPUR - The Home and Education ministries will look into the prospects of providing security-featured biometric identity cards for foreign students studying in local higher education institutions.

Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the proposed card, similar to the iKad that would be issued to the more than 2.1 million foreign workers in the country, will act as a passport and travel document for foreign students.

The iKad, to be colour-coded according to sectors for easier identification, is in the pilot stage and will include a barcode and the cardholder's biometric information.

His ministry was discussing the planned foreign student's card with the Education Ministry, Dr Ahmad Zahid told reporters at the Parliament lobby here yesterday.

The student's card will also adopt the security features like a barcode and radio-frequency identification (RIFD) chip, he said.

"With the card, students will not need to carry their passports around.

"Saudi Arabia, Yemen and several Middle East countries have indicated interest in adopting such a card for their students here," he added.

Based on the ministry's records, there were an estimated 80,000 international students in Malaysia last year, with 200,000 expected by 2020.

On the iKad for foreign workers, Dr Ahmad Zahid said his ministry was looking to equip all these workers with the card by the end of next year and there will be no compromise after that.

"We have informed the respective embassies that those without the card will be deported," he said.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the iKad was being issued according to sectors to allow immigration officials to keep tabs via a foreign workers' centralised management system that would be set up.

On the breakdown of the current workforce, he said 733,000 were in the manufacturing sector while the rest are in the plantation sector (347,000), services (251,000), domestic help (180,000) and agriculture (179,000).

The bulk is from Indonesia, with 935,000 migrant workers, while the others are from Nepal (359,000), Bangladesh (316,000), Myanmar (174,000) and India (117,000).

Dr Ahmad Zahid said since 2011, some 117 employers had been charged and penalised for hiring illegal foreign workers.