Defective passports causing long lines at airports

The insider said the problem was more apparent at klia2 due to the high volume of passengers. — Reuters pic
The insider said the problem was more apparent at klia2 due to the high volume of passengers. — Reuters pic

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PETALING JAYA, June 17 — Travellers have been facing long queues at immigration counters at airports nationwide over the past three weeks due to faulty security chips in passports issued by the Immigration Department.

Hundreds of Malaysia passport holders have had trouble scanning their passports, especially at KL International Airport (KLIA) and klia2, irking passengers and airline operators.

The latest incident occurred at about 4am at klia2 yesterday. A large number of Malaysians faced difficulties obtaining clearance at the immigration gates before boarding their flights.

An insider revealed the long lines had become a norm, especially during peak hours, over the past three weeks.

He said the eGates were unable to read the details of the defective passports, most of which were issued after April. Those affected had to be referred to the immigration counters.

“Checks carried out by the counter staff will take a longer time. In most cases, the passport readers at the counters are unable to read the passports and this causes further problems,” he said.

“This is a waste of time and causes a backlog.”

The insider said the problem was more apparent at klia2 due to the high volume of passengers.

“The problem lies with the passport. Passengers have experienced similar woes in other international airports nationwide,” he said.

In a front-page report yesterday, Malay Mail revealed a high number of passports had been rejected by the National Security Printers and Immigration Department for being damaged or failing to meet standards. This had caused a shortage of passports, resulting in longer queues at passport issuing offices.

This paper was informed the issuing offices “were forced to be a little lenient with the quality of passports” and had issued passports with “minimal defects”.

Malay Mail Afternoon E-Paper had revealed yesterday 3,000 Malaysians had their travel plans disrupted in recent months when electronic chips in their passports were found to be defective.

Travellers found themselves in a predicament at exit points, with some running into problems at airports abroad.

“Some of the passports could not be read by immigration checkpoints at the airport,” a source said.

The source said the situation could turn ugly with the coming festive and holiday season. He said immigration personnel manning the counters were “stretched” and that at least one airline company had raised this matter with the Home Ministry.

On Tuesday, vendors involved in supplying the passports and maintaining the eGates had visited KLIA’s immigration counters where their systems operate.

“There is talk the system needs to be configured to address the problem affecting those with new passports,” the source said.

“But this cannot happen overnight and the problem is expected to persist.”

The Immigration Department has come under scrutiny in recent weeks after Malay Mail ran an expose on May 18 the Malaysian Immigration System (myIMMs) had been sabotaged, leaving the country vulnerable in its ability to monitor foreigners entering the country. The damning revelation led to the sacking, suspension and transfer of over 100 immigration officers.

Police have arrested several immigration personnel over the fiasco.

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