Fri, Jan 06, 2006 - Page 1 News List

Ministry of the Interior clears `earless' exterior for IDs

MODEST PROPOSAL The ministry has loosened regulations regarding identification card photos, ending months of creative photographic techniques making features visible


People with streamlined ears that require new identification card photographs need no longer resort to the embarassing method of buttressing their unassuming appendages with cotton wads or toothpicks to meet legal requirements.

In a move likely to be welcomed by people who are shy or finicky about their appearance, the Ministry of the Interior yesterday promised to loosen the identification standards for photos on ID cards.

"We hope local household registration offices won't be overly strict in carrying out the measure," said Jair Lan-pin (翟蘭萍), senior executive officer of the Department of Household Registration Affairs under the Ministry of Interior. "The bottom line is that as long as the photo shows clearly the person's five organs in the most natural way possible, it should be accepted."

If the person has small ears, Jair said it is a unique feature of the individual and that the person should not have to make their modest auricles more visible in the picture.

But it was more bad news for people who preferred to hide their ears altogether. If a person has long hair, it is only acceptable for one-third of the ears to be covered, Jair said.

"Hey, we have human rights, too!" joked one individual, whose ears were obscured by her hair.

She characterized her ears as "large," but preferred not to be identified, citing aesthetic concerns.

Jair made the remarks in response to a request made by Taiwan Solidarity Union (TSU) Legislator Yin Ling-ying (尹伶瑛).

Yin said her office has received many complaints from her constituents, who said that the photographs they used to apply for their new ID cards were rejected by local household registration offices. This forced the constituents to spend an added NT$350 to have another photograph taken.

"It has caused a lot of inconvenience and complaints," Yin said. "I demand the interior ministry immediately relax the identification criteria."

Wu Chung-ping (吳中平), chairman of the Photo Association of Taiwan, said that some of his association members have told him that they have to stick cotton wads, tissue paper or toothpicks behind the ears of customers with small ears or big faces, in order to make the ears more noticeable in the photograph.

Min Tsung-hsien (閩聰賢), chairman of the Photo Association of Taipei, said some of his association members use hair pins, hair spray or gel to keep a client's hair behind his or her ears.

Among the other orginal restrictions that applied to the photos was one that said a person cannot show his or her teeth.

The ministry yesterday issued a statement saying that people could bare their pearly whites if they so chose.

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