KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 28 — Malaysian diplomatic missions in Australia have been flooded with an inordinate number of requests for passport renewals, overwhelming the system and causing the lengthy delay.

Second Secretary (Head of Chancery) Hoo Yip Soon from the Malaysian High Commission in Canberra told The Sunday Star today that the diplomatic missions there usually perform 10,000 renewals annually.

However, as countries ease back on travel restrictions, the requests have skyrocketed, leading to a backlog.

“The plan to conduct more passport mobile programmes has also been hampered by interstate travel restrictions. Plans are afoot to conduct more of these programmes, subject to a Covid 19-safe situation and manpower capacity.

“The programme allows for backlog reduction and prioritisation for applicants with urgent needs, such as an emergency that requires them to return to Malaysia.

“This includes the two-year extension for Malaysians who need a valid passport to apply for visas or other related reasons,” he was quoted saying.

Hoo explained that the diplomatic staff also had trouble sifting through the countless emails as there were duplicate requests.

“There were numerous instances when officers had to sort through duplicate applications from the same person or replying multiple times to the same person to sort out missing or wrong attachments, subsequently compromising on their ability to respond to other inquiries.

“Appointment dates have stretched as far as October next year,” he added.

According to the report, the Malaysian Immigration Department has only one passport machine in Melbourne, and just two officers in Melbourne, two in Perth and one in Canberra to process applications.

Malaysians have voiced their dismay at having to wait for a year to travel back home.

They have vented their frustrations on various social media platforms, including the official Facebook pages of the Malaysian Immigration Department.