Imagine this: You're visiting a friend and about to enter a residential area but you can't go in until you register at the security counter.
Almost instinctively, you hand out your MyKad so the guards will let you in.
This happens almost everywhere — from guarded neighbourhoods to office buildings and even commercial buildings such as hotels.
This practice of asking for identification documents such as MyKad or driving license is usually performed by security officers employed by security control companies, based on internal rules issued by the premises' management.
It is aimed at ensuring that identities of all incoming visitors are recorded and monitored for the safety and orderliness of the residents at the premises. More and more housing areas across the country have adopted this practice, especially in crime-prone areas.
Usually, a person would have to hand over their MyKad or driving license to the security guard in exchange for a security pass that will allow the person to gain access to the guarded area. The identification document will be given back when the person returns the security pass when exiting the premises.
However, have you ever wondered if it is actually legal for security guards to hold on to your MyKad?
The short answer: No. Nobody, except the issuing body (JPN), has the right to take your MyKad away.
Back in 2007, a circular by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA), addressed this issue, in regards to the guidelines for identification of visitors entering premises such as condominiums, residential areas, and fenced communities nationwide.
It was stated that only a registration officer, police officer, customs officer, military officer or other officers authorised by the National Registration Department (JPN) director-general, can conduct checks on the identity of a person and request for identification, in accordance with Rule 7 of the National Registration Regulation 1990.
Additionally, National Registration Act 1959 (Act 78) and the National Registration Regulations 1990 (Amendment 2007), under Regulation 8, states that only an authorised personnel may require visitors to show them their MyKad for identity verification.
What the authorised personnel can do is to ask for the visitor's MyKad to record his or her information. However, the MyKad must be immediately returned to the owner after the details have been recorded.
In fact, a person who unlawfully keeps another person's MyKad can be charged under Regulation 25 of the National Registration Act.
Despite it being completely illegal, some people still give in to these requests for sensitive, important documents such as MyKad
It is argued that it will be difficult to get things done if a visitor refuses to give a personal document as they will not be allowed to pass through the security check point and get to their desired destination.
Many others have voiced their objection to this practice, only to hear from the security personnel, saying that they are "only doing their job" and that there was no way to win the argument.
Eventually, people comply just because they "do not want any trouble" or to complicate things.
As for the ones that do not wish to hand in their MyKad, they would usually give their expired driving licenses instead
It's not unusual to see people keeping an expired driving license with them to use on occasions when they are required to hand over a document to a security personnel, just to reduce the risk of identity theft. Some said that they would instead leave things with lesser personal information such as business cards.
Meanwhile, quite of a number of occupants in these spaces, especially residents at housing areas, prefer the existing system of asking and keeping identification documents. The reason for this is because they feel that this is purely for security reasons and they would not hesitate to comply with such policies elsewhere.
Here's the real dilemma: On one hand, the practice of handing out an identification document to security guards is illegal and it poses the risk of forgery or misuse but on the other hand, some people think that it's a good security measure.
Clearly, there is room for improvement and this calls for stricter enforcement of law and guidelines implemented by the authorities without compromising security
Recently, the residents associations (RAs) in Shah Alam are being subjected to the guidelines by the Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) for gated-and-guarded (G&G) scheme. The Star Online reported that the guidelines were amended to streamline the process and avoid confusion.
Here are some of the highlights of the new guidelines:
1. RAs must get consent from residents (100% approval) to set up automated gates and the access card system. For manual boom gates, a 75% approval from residents is required.
2. Security guards are not allowed to stop anyone from moving in or out of the premises.
3. Security guards are not allowed to take away anyone's MyKad or even take a photograph of it. They are only allowed to record the details of the person only.
However, the move did not come without roadblocks, as it was reported that some RAs presidents have expressed their concerns and objected MBSA's move, saying that the new guidelines are too tough to follow.
Despite the opposition from certain parties, there are also those who commended the move
A citizen residing in Petaling Jaya wrote in an open letter that was published on The Star, saying that other local city councils such as Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) should take heed and emulate MBSA's efforts in tackling this tricky issue.
The writer said that the current landscape and process at G&G housing areas has made it extremely tedious for non-residents to move around the surrounding neighbourhoods.
It was said that the new stipulations, aimed at establishing orderliness and greater security and convenience for residents and visitors, are welcomed in a step forward towards the development of the country.
"I am sure this may have annoyed some but there must be the rule of law and the MBSA puts it quite clearly what must be complied with."
"I ask those wanting their neighbourhood gated and guarded, how they would feel when asked to surrender their identity card or stopped when visiting another housing area?"
Do you think the practice of taking away a visitor's MyKad or other documents should be stopped completely? Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below.