Over 2.5 million passports issued last year, says Home Minister

public queue at the counter to renew their passports at the Immigration Department in Kuala Lumpur. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI/The Star

SEPANG: More than 2.5 million Malaysians were bitten by the travel bug last year following the easing of Covid-19 travel restrictions, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The Home Minister said this was based on the Immigration Department having issued a total of 2,574,435 international passports last year, a 25% increase compared with 2,006,208 issued in 2019.

"As of Jan 17 this year, the department has issued 156,711 international passports.

"For comparison, the department issued an average of 210,000 passports a month and an average of 10,000 passports each day," Saifuddin said when opening the department's passport issuing centre at KLIA Long Term Parking Terminal on Thursday (Jan 19).

He said the increase showed that Malaysians were eager to travel after two years of lockdown.

"Some want to travel immediately while others realise the importance of holding a passport," he said.

The nation's borders were closed in March 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic with borders reopened for travel on April 1 last year.

On the passport issuing centre, he said, it was a pilot project representing a low-hanging fruit initiated by the current administration for the benefit of the rakyat.

Besides the issuing of passports, he said the centre would also include a National Registration Department counter which would issue temporary identification documents for lost MyKad and birth certificate extracts.

"This will help those facing problems of missing documents at KLIA to get it resolved faster as it is near the airport," he added.

He said that the centre would help improve delivery service by making such service available to about 3.4 million residents living in districts of Sepang and Kuala Langat, including parts of Petaling, Seremban and Port Dickson.

"Since its opening today (Thursday), 182 applications for international passports have been submitted," he said.

He added the centre would be open from 8am to 5pm, Monday to Friday, except on public holidays.

He said that discussions were currently being held between the department and Malaysia Airports Berhad to set up a similar centre near the Kota Kinabalu Airport.

He said that more such centres could be opened based on the success of the pilot project.

To further improve the delivery system to the rakyat, Saifuddin said that 20 selected immigration offices would also be open from 8am to noon on Saturdays and Sundays, except on public holidays.

Among the offices were those in Putrajaya, Shah Alam, Jalan Duta, Kuala Kubu Baru, Wangsa Maju, Puchong, Kelana Jaya, Kajang, Port Klang, Melaka, Seberang Prai in Penang, Muar, Kulai and Setia Tropika in Johor.

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