The Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia is calling for standardized border security screening for all members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Making the comments while on a visit to Rome, Dato’ Seri Dr. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi suggested that the measure should include “the use of biometrics for fingerprint and facial recognition for all who enter ASEAN countries.”
Zahid’s comments may have been partially inspired by the ongoing migrant crisis in Europe, with his official business likely having exposed him to some of the political turmoil the issue has caused in Italy. European leaders have sought to implement tighter border controls – including biometric screening – as part of an effort to stem the crisis, and more such measures may be in the pipeline.
For its part, Malaysia is experiencing its own refugee crisis as ethnic Rohingya Muslims flee persecution in Myanmar, with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) having urged the country to implement biometric identity cards in order to better manage the refugee population. Moreover, Myanmar happens to have been the first country in the world to introduce biometric passports, and government authorities were given ample reason to reassess their approach to biometric border screening in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight 730 last year.
Whatever the underlying motivations, Zahid’s call for biometric border security comes at a time when there is a growing appetite for such measures among governments around the world.
Source: New Straits Times Online
December 7, 2015 – by Alex Perala