PEOPLE from other regions who come to live in Yangon, need letters of recommendation from the wards where they live and from the police when they want to apply for jobs, loans or to buy things in instalments.
The problem is that when they come to the ward administrators for recommendation letters, they are told to register on the guest list before they are given recommendation letters. If not, they do not get the recommendation.
I have lived in Yangon for less than a year. I moved to Yangon after the government removed the overnight guest registration regulations imposed on visitors.
I knew the law was revised and that is why I did not register, but I faced difficulties when I needed ward and police recommendation letters.
My friend, who shares an apartment with me, told me it is easy to get a recommendation letter if you can tell them your NRC (National Registration Certificate) number and an address, so I went to the ward administrator’s office without taking any other documents.
I rent and live in an apartment on 50th street in Pazundaung township. I went to Pazundaung ward administrator’s office on Saturday afternoon, my off day.
Unfortunately, the office is closed on Saturdays and Sundays. So, I took leave on Monday morning to return to the office.
But the office was still closed when I returned. Later I found out that the ward administrator’s office is open from 7 to 9pm on weekdays, and whatever business transactions one needs from the office can only be performed at that time.
I came to the office that night and told the ward administrator in charge about my apartment on 50th street and that I needed a recommendation letter to apply for a loan from my office.
The ward administrator said he could not give me a recommendation because I did not submit an overnight guest registration.
The Pyithu Hluttaw decided to remove the sections that require residents to report overnight guests during amendment of the Village Tract Administration Law in September 2016, the third time the law was amended.
But for security purposes, the Pyithu Hluttaw added the clause “to inform the ward or village administrator if the guests need to stay more than 60 days in a new place.”
The Hluttaw, however, also prescribed not to take action if they fail to do this. The meaning of informing is similar with the registration of guests, said U Myint Thein, Pazundaung township administrator.
He said it takes 20 days from the day of registration to process in accordance with the Village Tract Administration Law.
The recommendation letter cannot be obtained without submitting a registration for overnight guests. So I asked if I could get it by just submitting an identity card.
He said an identity card was not enough and I needed to show my apartment rental contract, and photocopies of other residents’ identity cards who live there.
When I asked my friend who was staying with me about the requirements, she said she did not have to produce any of these papers when she obtained her letter.
Then she told me her lover was the nephew of the ward administrator. Only then did I realise that the way the ward administration law regulations are enforced depends a great deal on whom you know.
When I asked other people, they said they could get a recommendation letter only with an identity card. Apparently the regulations vary from one ward administration office to another.
“We open our office from 9am to 5pm every day. They can get a recommendation letter after they register on the guest list,” said U Aung Tin Tun, administrator of Pabetan 3 ward. “They can get if they can tell the exact address by just using their identity cards.”
A friend of mine who lives in Tarmwe told me in their ward, recommendation letters can be obtained without reporting overnight guests.
Together, we went to the ward administration office in Tarmwe, as she needed to get a recommendation letter for her work. We got it without any problem.
An employee told me that my friend has lived in the ward since birth and is part of the official household list, so they can give her recommendation letters quickly.
I had to pay K5000 for my recommendation letter, but my friend got hers for free.
The requirement to register on guest lists in the ward administration office is meant to ensure better security for the community. But does this requirement really improve security in the community?
Other countries do not impose such requirements and are much more secure than Myanmar. Maybe the Village Tract Administration Law needs changing to make it better able to serve the people.