Losing your passport is no funny business.
You would think that a passport is specific to the owner because of the security measures implemented within the travel document, like how your passport photo is supposedly tamper-proof.
So in theory, stolen passports should be useless, right?
Stolen passports can be easily used for illegal activities. One example would be one of the most high profile cases in the history of Malaysian aviation – the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
Two Iranians were reportedly able to board the flight with passports stolen from Thailand and somehow, immigration controls didn’t detect any mismatched identity in their passports.
Stolen passports have also been reportedly used in human trafficking and drug smuggling to cross international borders with less scrutiny.
Of course, not all lost passports end up in the hands of criminals. But a proportion of it does and it should be taken very seriously because someone else might be taking your identity and using it for who knows what reason in another part of the world.
According to the Malaysian Customs Department, there are a total of 31,287 Malaysians have reportedly lost their passports
between January and 2 June this year alone!
Out of that number, 22,475 people claimed that they forgot where they had placed their passports and 2,858 said that they might have lost it while moving houses.
That may look like a small amount compared to the number of travellers going in and out of Malaysia, but that’s still a lot of lost passports!
The Customs Department director general Datuk Seri Mustafar told Bernama
that the people’s careless attitude was one of the contributing factors to this common problem.
In fact, statistics showed that Johor had the highest number of lost passports at a total of 5,734 reported cases, following by Kuala Lumpur with 4,399 cases and Selangor, 3,409 cases.
There are also instances where passports are lost overseas, which can be such a pain because, well, how are you going to come back to Malaysia?
Australia recorded the most number of cases with 43 losses, followed by Singapore with 41 passports, Hong Kong with 11, and France, 10. Most of them were due to theft, robbery and dropping out of pockets, among other reasons.
Mustafar added that there was a case where one person claimed to have lost their passport four times! This person is either very unlucky or very careless.
Did you know that Malaysian passports are among the most sought-after in the world? Your passport allows you to access 151 countries without visa, making us the eighth most powerful passport in the world
So, it is extremely crucial that you be more responsible with your passports and take note of where you keep them.
To curb the recurring problem of passport losses and prevent potential forgers, the government is also considering imposing a heavier penalty
on those who lose their documents.
The proposed penalty is a RM200 fine for first-timers, RM500 should it occur the second time and RM1,000 for the third and subsequent times.
So, let’s all be a bit more responsible with our passports because you never know what a lost or stolen passport may lead to.