SEPANG: Nearly 2.6 million Malaysians were issued with international passports last year, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.
The Home Minister said this was a 25% increase in applications compared with before the Covid-19 pandemic first struck three years ago.
“The Immigration Department issued 2,574,435 international passports last year, a 25% increase compared with 2,006,208 issued in 2019.
“As at Jan 17 this year, the department issued 156,711 international passports.
“For comparison, the department issues an average of 210,000 passports a month and an average of 10,000 passports daily,” Saifuddin Nasution said when opening the passport issuing centre at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Long Term Parking Terminal here yesterday.
Saifuddin Nasution said the increase shows that Malaysians are eager to travel after two years of movement restrictions.
“Some want to travel immediately while others realise the importance of holding an international passport,” he added.
The nation’s borders were closed in March 2020 due to Covid-19, with borders reopened for travel on April 1 last year.
On the passport issuing centre, he said it was a pilot project initiated by the government to improve services.
He said the centre would also include a National Registration Department counter that could issue temporary identification documents for lost MyKad or birth certificates.
“This will help those facing problems of missing documents at KLIA to get them resolved faster,” he added.
Saifuddin Nasution said the centre would make these services available to about 3.4 million residents living in the districts of Sepang and Kuala Langat along with parts of Petaling, Seremban and Port Dickson.
“Since its opening today (yesterday), 182 applications for international passports were submitted,” he said.
He added that the centre would be opened between 8am and 6pm, Monday to Friday, except on public holidays.
The waiting time for passports to be issued is one to two hours after payment.
Saifuddin Nasution also said the centre would help ease congestion at immigration offices, and that discussions are currently being held between the Immigration Department and Malaysia Airports Bhd to set up a similar centre near the Kota Kinabalu Airport.
He said more such centres would be set up based on the success of the pilot project.
Saifuddin Nasution added that 20 selected immigration offices would also be opened between 8am and midnight on Saturdays and Sundays, except on public holidays.These offices include those in Putrajaya, Shah Alam, Jalan Duta, Kuala Kubu Baru, Wangsa Maju, Puchong, Kelana Jaya, Kajang, Port Klang, Taiping, Teluk Intan, Kulim, Melaka, Seberang Prai, Muar, Kulai and Setia Tropika.