PUTRAJAYA - Malaysians who lose their passports could be made to pay fines if a plan being studied by the Immigration Department to tackle the rise in such cases since 2010 is approved.
Its deputy director-general (control) Datuk Sakib Kusmi said the department would scrutinise details of the proposed plan, especially the terms under which stolen passports were replaced.
He said fines would serve as a reminder for holders to be careful with their documents, adding that fines would not be imposed on those who lost their passports for the first time.
Currently, the penalty for lost passports is a delay of replacement, lasting between two and five years.
"The penalty depends on how the passport went missing and the frequency of such incidents.
"For example, the penalty to suspend a person's passport for five years is imposed only if the holder had lost the document three times in a year," he said in an interview with mStar, the Malay news portal of The Star Media Group here.
Sakib, however, added that passport holders could appeal against the penalty on valid reasons, such as an urgent need to travel overseas for business or medical treatment.
He said the issuance of replacement passports would also be suspended if the holder was found to have been blacklisted by certain agencies or forbidden by them from leaving the country.
"We plan to strengthen checks in the process to replace lost passports," he said, adding that the plan was at an early stage and needed to be thoroughly discussed before it could be implemented.
More than 80,000 passports have been reported missing between 2010 and May this year.
The department, however, believed that this accounted for 90 per cent of the number of lost documents with another 10 per cent not reported.
Most of the cases were due to theft (29,700 cases), misplacement (24,622) and passports found missing from bags and pockets (14,414).
Other reasons given for missing passports include documents kept in unsecure places (7,098 cases), lost while moving homes (4,374), passports left in public transport vehicles (773) and lost after natural disasters (593).