Nine in new passport deal race


  • Business
  • Wednesday, 18 Apr 2012

PETALING JAYA: Two companies, Iris Corp Bhd and Dibena/Datasonic Corp are said to be the front-runners for the job to replace the identification pages (ID) on the Malaysian passport from paper to polycarbonate.

The contract value for just the two ID pages is expected to be about RM330mil for a five-year period. Sources claim that over two million passports will be issued over the next five years from the 56 domestic and five overseas centres where the passports are issued.

The party that wins the contract will have to finance the project initially as it can only bill the Government once it has produced the ID pages, according to the sources.

The tender is called to change the ID pages from paper to polycarbonate as there is a need to add more layers of security to make it difficult for the Malaysian passport to be forged.

Polycarbonate is “non-delaminable” and the many layers of materials make the ID documents fused into a single solid card.

It was reported that the Malaysian passport has become a much sought-after document in the international black market as it can get fetch anything between RM40,000 and RM50,000 a piece. And changing the ID pages may be seen as a drastic preventive measure to stop the abuse of the document by unscrupulous people.

The tender for the ID pages was called in May last year and it attracted nine companies. Other than Iris and Dibena/Datasonic, some of the other companies that submitted bids included Al Karismi Technologies Sdn Bhd, Muhlbauer AG, CD Solutions, Kersuma Nyata Sdn Bhd, Integrity Business Solution and OVD Systems.

Most of the players have some tie-up with international partners that are in the business of providing solutions for passports.

Dibena/Datasonic is said to have Switzerland-based Trub AG as its partner for the bid. Trub has been in the security printing business for over 100 years, and is also supplier of physical and electronic identification solutions.

Al Karismi Technologies teamed up with one of the biggest players in the polycarbonate business, Netherlands-based Gemalto N.V. Gemalto supplies polycarbonate paper for the ID pages to Europe and other parts of the world.

Muhlbauer group from Germany submitted its bid via its local unit, Muhlbauer Sdn Bhd. Muhlbauer is already involved in more than 300 ID projects globally.

It is not known who Iris or the other players are partnering for the tender bid.

Sources said the Government had three months ago asked all the companies that submitted bids to do a proof of concept to show if whatever they had proposed would work.

“These companies had to show if their solution for the ID pages can be integrated with the chip at the back of the passport.

“It was a one-day affair to show the integration,'' said the source.

The chip is provided by Iris under a different contract.

It is not known why after 10 months and a decision on the contract has not made but those in the know claim that “the lobbying for the contract is intense but the company with the best solution should be considered as security is a big consideration.''

It was reported that there were 89 cases of Malaysian passports being forged out of the 1.2 million issued in 2009.

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