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Saturday, July 1, 2017

Heavier fines for losing your passport

Nearly 72% of those who lost their passports this year claim they “cannot remember” where they put them.

And the Immigration Depart­ment is tired of hearing this excuse. It will soon impose a fine on those who lose their passports due to carelessness.

“Passport holders need to be more responsible and careful,” said Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.

The Malaysian passport is among the world’s most desirable travel documents, as it allows the holder to travel to 156 countries without a visa, or qualify for visa-on-arrival.

In fact, the Global Passport Power Rank 2017 ranked the Malaysian passport as the fourth most powerful in the world, a position it shares with Japan, Switzerland, Netherlands, Bel­gium, Luxembourg, Austria and Portugal.

The proposed penalty for those who lose their passports starts from RM200.

“The Malaysian passport is not cheap to make, and is of high quality. Fining those who lose their passports will make them more responsible,” Mustafar told a press conference here yesterday.

“The Government, including Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, accepted this proposal, and we are ironing out the details.”

Those who lose their passport for the second time will be fined RM500, while losing it for the third time will set them back RM1,000. This is on top of the passport replacement charge.

Mustafar said that consideration would be given to those who lost their passports under genuine circumstances, such as emergencies or accidents.

“If they lose their passports to theft or disaster, that is still acceptable. But we will investigate their claims first,” he said.

The department is also looking into placing a moratorium on replacement passports for those who lose their passports “habitually”.

“Some have asked me how much would the penalty be if they lose it for a fourth or fifth time. Now, they are making it a habit losing their passports,” he said.

Statistics show that 22,474 of 31,287 passport holders who lost their documents in the first half of this year claimed they could not recall where and when they last saw their passports, with 2,858 holders claiming it might have happened when they moved house.

By Joseph Kaos Jr

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