Fines for lost passports mulled in Malayisa

Fines for lost passports mulled in Malayisa
Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

PUTRAJAYA - Malaysians who lose their passports may have to fork out a fine to obtain a new one.

They may also be required to lodge a police report within 24 hours of the loss.

The proposals are being mulled by the Home Ministry to counter the use of the passports by third parties in criminal activities and terrorism, says minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He added that exceptions would be given to those who lost their documents due to fire or floods.

"We will determine the amount (fine) to be paid.

"We need to impose this so that the public will take better care of this very important document.

"It is government property," he told reporters after receiving the US Department of Homeland Security assistant secretary for international affairs Alan D. Bersin here yesterday.

Dr Ahmad Zahid said the introduction of a fee for lost passports was among suggestions put forward by the US government as part of the requirement for Malaysian travellers to join its Visa Waiver Programme.

He added that the fact that 162 countries accepted Malaysian passports without its holder having to apply for a visa "has made it appealing to many".

"We are getting closer to joining the visa waiver programme and we hope to be able to clinch the deal in less than a year," he said.

However, Dr Ahmad Zahid said a stumbling block was the US State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TiP) Report, where Malaysia and the United States held "different views on the issue".

"They want us to provide those who are victims of human trafficking with employment opportunities, shelter and freedom of movement.

"We have a different set of immigration laws which we want the US government to understand," he added.

On another matter, Dr Ahmad Zahid said the revocation of passports belonging to sex blogger Alvin Tan and activist Ali Abd Jalil was carried out legally.

He added that it was clearly stated on a page in the passport that it could be revoked anytime.

He was responding to views by several lawyers who said that the Government had no authority to revoke Malaysian passports and that the move was a breach of fundamental rights accorded in the Federal Constitution.

Tan and Ali are now technically considered illegal immigrants in the countries they are in now - the United States and Sweden - following the revocation of their passports.

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