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Travel document: Dr Ahmad Zahid showing his old version passport at the Datasonic factory. — Bernama

PETALING JAYA: About 81,000 Malaysian passport booklets with the old features are expected to be completely used up soon, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

He said in one-and-a-half months, all passport holders would be using the new travel document with enhanced security features.

“We have the capacity to produce five million passports a year and we still have old passports which can be used. But at the same time, we have started issuing the new version.

“There are only 81,000 pieces of the old passport left, and the number will be exhausted in one-and-a-half months, especially during the current holiday season,” he told a media conference after opening a new factory of Datasonic Group Bhd here yesterday.

He said among the new enhanced security features included biometric and facial recognition capabilities and the new passport booklet complied with the standard set by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

He said the latest features would ensure the document could not be forged even with the latest technology.

He said the latest features would also improve the level of efficiency of passport issuance by the Immigration Department.

“For renewal of passport, the Immigration Department will only need 15 minutes after payment had been made, while for new application, it would only take one hour after payment had been made,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement, Datasonic said its new factory had commenced operations to manufacture new passport booklets in October and had so far manufactured almost 650,000 pieces of the document which were rolled out to the people since Nov 15.

It said the new version of the Malaysian passport with enhanced features, such as embedded chip, three coloured security stitching thread and the use of ultraviolet light to verify its authenticity.

“The upgraded design concept, on the other hand, encompasses the Malaysian culture, such as the hibiscus, orchidaceae, red ginger, silver-eared mesia bird and Rukunegara principles,” it said.

Last year the group was awarded a RM233.38mil contract to supply passport booklets for five years from Dec 1, 2016 to Nov 30, 2021. — Bernama