KUALA LUMPUR--The country's ambitious government multipurpose card (GMPC) will be issued immediately, but existing identity cards will only be phased out in stages, according to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
He was speaking to the press on Tuesday after a smartcard certification presentation ceremony by Proton World Technology to Iris Technology and the National Registration Department.
"The implementation can start immediately ... it (the smartcard) can also be used for transactions with government departments," Mahathir was quoted in The Sun.
He said the GMPC has nine applications but these can be increased, adding the the smartcard would be more convenient for the public as it also acts as a prepaid card as well.
The card is designed to allow access to services deemed relevant to the individual and features a pin number and the thumbprint of the card-holder
Government departments will also be equipped with smartcard readers to facillitate the smooth implementation of the system.
The first stage of the GMPC, a credit card-sized microchip embedded card, incorporates four apllications--identity card, driving licence, passport information and e-cash.
Two more applications--health record and public key infrastructure--will be added by year end.
The GMPC is optional unless for those who have lost or damaged their identity cards, changed address and applying for the identity card for the first time upon reaching 12 years of age.
It was reported in April that the GMPC with four applications costs RM20 (US$5.26) each while the one with single application (IC) will cost RM10 (US$2.63).
Deputy prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was reported to have said that the government subsidized RM13 (US$3.42) for each GMPC card as the production cost is RM33 (US$8.69) each.