Residence registration process creates ‘group’ of urban poor

Updated  September, 07 2015 08:37:42

Dang Nguyen Anh, director of the Institute of Sociology, spoke to Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper about how challenges posed by household registration books affect migrants.

Many migrants have complained that lack of updated registration books creates difficulties when they move to major cities. How do you respond to that problem?

I have to admit that even permanent residents in Ha Noi, HCM City or Da Nang all face difficulties in filling some administrative forms. Migrants from other provinces have even more problems.

The new household registration law is very cumbersome. Applicants must satisfy certain sets of requirements when they move to a new address, including getting a residency permit. To get a permit, applicants must spend at least one year at their new address, have a job – and to have a certain amount of living space.

For example, one household in District 7 in HCM City has eight residents from three generations. The people have lived there for 20 years, but still do not have official status as permanent residents.

The head of that household, an old man, said they desperately wanted to be permanent residents, but didn’t know what procedures to follow to get that legal status. The man said, he had made several attempts to talk to officials from the ward where they lived for 20 years, yet the only answer he received was “you have to wait for official guiding documents from city authorities.”

Do you agree that residents without household registration books in major cities have many challenges?

Migrants living in major cities face quite a few challenges, including shortage of money, low professional skills – and limited social contacts. This is creating a new group of poor urban citizens or groups of “second citizens” in the major cities.

For example, in Ha Noi non-permanent residents cannot apply for a test to become civil servants if they are non-permanent residents of the city. Top university graduates, however, are given red carpet treatment to work in the capital city. This is evidence of discrimination between permanent and non-permanent residents living in the same city.

On the other hand, a Ha Noi resident came to the capital from the northern province of Phu Tho to attend university. After graduation, she decided to settle in Ha Noi. For her, a household registration book had become something of an obsession.

The book is a ticket to such basic rights as owning a home, finding a job in a State-run office, or sending children to school. Despite living in the city for many years, the resident and her family were treated as second-class citizens because they did not have a household registration book.

Do you think we should replace household registration books with another system?

In my opinion, to gear toward a more dynamic society, I think we should abolish the present household registration books.

In addition, I suggest that social services, including education and poverty alleviation programmes, should not use the household registration book as key criteria.

Instead, personal identity cards can replace the household registration book. This is a step to simplify and streamline citizenship identification paper and other related administrative procedures.

The new ID cards should be granted to citizens when they are 15 years old. They should contain sufficient information to replace household registers in serving the management of citizen identification. — VNS

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