Officials first in the queue to switch to new ID cards

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 19 August, 2003, 12:00am

Top government officials and legislators were among the early birds applying to exchange their old identity cards for new computer-chip equipped versions yesterday.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, along with legislators Chan Yuen-han and Fred Li Wah-ming, signed up for the ID-card replacement programme that started on a wide scale yesterday.

Police public relations Chief Superintendent Tang How-kong also applied for a new card.

It is part of a four-year initiative to upgrade all permanent identity cards with ones that have a computer chip to record the holder's name, date of birth, ID number, a digital photograph and thumbprint.

The new cards, about the size of a standard credit card, are harder to forge.

In theory they could also be used for other purposes, such as serving as a library card or allowing travellers to pass through automated passenger clearance systems at border crossings. The replacement programme started on a small scale in June, aimed at people whose existing cards were invalid, lost or damaged, or required amendments to their personal details.

Procedures at the nine smart ID card centres went smoothly yesterday, with 1,700 appointments, not including walk-in applicants.

Police officers, labour inspectors and immigration officers are in the first batch of people who will get the cards.

They have been given priority so they can familiarise themselves with the cards because their jobs involve inspecting other people's ID cards.

Legislators, the chief executive, principal officials and members of the Executive Council were given the option of replacing their cards in the first phase, which lasts until November 15. Alternatively, they can wait until others in their birth year are called for renewal.

The second phase of renewal, targeted at those born in 1968 and 1969, will start on September 15. Each phase will last for two months to give time for those eligible to make an appointment.

The application process takes about half an hour.

Those interested in making an appointment in advance can call 1838 333 or go to