PETALING JAYA: The highly-valued Malaysian passport has been used by some citizens as collateral for funds from loan sharks.
MCA Public Services and Complaints Department chairman Datuk Seri Michael Chong said it received 30 complaints last year from people who claim to have lost their passports but subsequently admitted to using them as collateral for borrowing money from loan sharks.
“This is a big mistake! A passport belongs to the Government and is a privilege and as such, cannot be misused this way,” he said.
Chong said he had no idea whether the passports were used to make forged copies, adding that the Malaysian passport could fetch a good price in the black market.
“Borrowers could take loans up to RM10,000 if a passport is used as collateral.
“This indicates how much the Malaysian passport is prized and valued,” he said, adding that the passports were returned once borrowers settled their loans.
Chong praised the Home Ministry for constantly upgrading the security features of the Malaysian passport to curb forgery.
He also advised Malaysians to keep their passports in a safe location and not leave them where they could be easily stolen, such as the car’s glove compartment or dresser drawer.
On Saturday, Bernama reported Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed saying that the Malaysian passport was among the most sought after passport in the world and to ensure Malaysians guard it well, the ministry had plans to impose a penalty on negligent holders.
This is to prevent passport selling, he said.
He said the penalty could follow the concept of existing penalties for lost MyKad where the amount increases for every subsequent offence.
For a lost MyKad, the offender must pay RM110 for the first offence, RM310 for the second offence and RM1,010 for the third and subsequent offences. These fees are inclusive of application and processing fees.
It was reported that the ministry has approved of the penalty in principle but has yet to discuss and finalise the rates.
According to Arton Capital’s Passport Index, the Malaysian passport is ranked the fifth most powerful passport in the world alongside Ireland, Canada and New Zealand, based on its Visa-Free Score (VFS) of 154.
The VFS is calculated based on visa-free and visa-on-arrival privileges.
The higher the VFS score, the better global mobility the passport holder enjoys.
Malaysian passport holders can enjoy visa-free access to 117 countries and visa-on-arrival privileges for 37 countries.
Although Israel is the only country where Malaysian passports are invalid, exceptions have been made for pilgrims who cross its borders to visit holy sites in Jerusalem and Bethlehem.
The German passport is ranked most powerful in the world with a VFS score of 158, providing visa-free access to 124 countries and 34 visa-on-arrival countries.
Singapore and Sweden are second with 157 VFS points.
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