Tightening passport rules will only make citizens suffer

  • Letters
  • Saturday, 04 Jan 2003

I READ with alarm your report, “Tighter rules for replacing passport” (The Star, Dec 30). 

As it is, the procedure for replacing a lost passport is cumbersome and convoluted. Though I agree with Immigration director-general Datuk Mohd Jamal Kamdi on the possibility of someone misusing or selling the document, the department must also realise losing a passport is a common travellers’ woe. 

Nobody wants to lose his passport. When such misfortune happens, the hapless traveller’s future completely depends on the mercy of the Immigration Department.  

Tightening the passport replacement procedure will only burden the holders unnecessarily. Those who mean evil (for example, the passport sellers) will somehow find a way around. In the end, only law-abiding citizens suffer.  

My passport was stolen on a business trip last year. I was forced to postpone my return trip and travelled many hours to the Malaysian consulate. 

Hoping my nightmare would be over once I reach the consulate, I was only offered a one-way “Emergency Certificate” to return to the United States where I held permanent employment. 

Upon reaching the United States, I pleaded my case with the Malaysian Consulate only to be told my case must be referred to Kuala Lumpur for approval. I was told to expect between three months and three years before getting a new passport (if my application was approved).  

A few weeks after I returned to the United States, I was assigned to a project to yet another foreign country. Without my passport I had to reject the assignment at the risk of losing my job. 

One cannot imagine how many weeks of sleep I lost. Every Malaysian I approached told me to expect the worst. 

I was most lucky to be issued a passport within three months. 

In contrast, I found out, it would take only three days to replace a US passport. If the argument of the Malaysian authority is that a Malaysian passport fetches a large sum and hence should be made difficult to replace, shouldn’t the same argument be extended for a highly-valued American passport? 

Why is it possible then, for an American to get a passport replaced within three days while it takes a Malaysian between three months and three years? 

As a law-abiding and loyal Malaysian, I appeal to the department to be more discerning and understanding towards the plight of its citizens. 

The authority should not presume malicious intent by all who seek its help. As we become more globalised we need to travel more. With more travelling, chances of losing one’s passport are greater. Unfortunately, the Immigration law seems to go back in time. 




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