350 forged or tampered passports spotted yearly

Every year, for the past five years, about 350 travellers have been caught at Singapore's checkpoints carrying forged or tampered passports.

Some passports do not even belong to them, said Senior Minister of State for Home Affairs Masagos Zulkifli, who revealed the figures in Parliament yesterday.

He was responding to questions from MPs on the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority's (ICA's) use of Interpol's stolen and lost travel documents database, and security at Changi Airport and checkpoints here.

He added that Singapore uses the Interpol database 29 million times a year to verify travellers' details to prevent "undesirable people" from using lost and stolen passports.

The questions came in the wake of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, when the Interpol found that at least two passengers on it were travelling with stolen passports - a revelation that raised red flags among law enforcers and security analysts.

Mr Masagos also said that, over the past five years, over 7,000 Singapore passports have been reported lost or stolen each year. "Once a report is received, ICA will immediately cancel any reported lost or stolen passport, update its database and convey the relevant information to Interpol," he said.

Anyone found guilty of offences relating to false foreign travel documents faces up to $10,000 in fines, a jail term of up to 10 years, or both.

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