KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 25 — A total of 77,945 Malaysian passports were reported stolen this year, making it an average of 233 cases a day, the Immigration Department was quoted saying in an Utusan Malaysia report today.
Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali reportedly said the number had increased by 91 per cent compared to two years ago — which was just 6,896 stolen passports or an average of 19 cases daily.
The report stated according to the database of Stolen and Lost Travel Documents from international police Interpol, the trend had increased significantly in 2016, when the number of cases jumped to 45,095.
Meanwhile, criminologist Datuk Shahul Hamid Abd Rahim was quoted telling the local daily the rising trend could be due to Malaysian passport’s accessibility to most countries except Israel.
He said the travel documents could be sold to criminal syndicates as it had been previously reported, with stolen passports reportedly selling between RM30,000 to RM50,000 in the 1990s.
“This is not something new as it had happened between the 1980s and 1990s. However, the price may be higher now,” he told the daily.
Shahul cited a case where a group of London police arrested sex workers, and found that 16 women who were citizens of China and Thailand, were found to have used Malaysian passports.
It was said that the resale value of Malaysian passport had reached RM250,000.
He said if the number does not drop, this would affect the country’s image, and it would be linked closely to criminal syndicates.
He also urged the Immigration Department to take stern action and increase a higher penalty for those who reported passport losses due to carelessness.