PETALING JAYA, Aug 8 — The Home Ministry is mulling the possibility of engaging a new passport vendor, following the shortage reported at Immigration offices in recent months.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed slammed the company responsible for supplying passports to the Immigration Department — Datasonic Technologies, a subsidiary of Datasonic Group — and reminded the company of the promises it made before being awarded the contract.
“Datasonic’s contract with the government was only to come into effect on Dec 1, and they were to supply passports from January next year,” he said.
It is understood the company had offered to supply the passports earlier to “familiarise themselves with the system” and “to build a stockpile of passports”.
“Why did they offer when they were not prepared to do so?” said Nur Jazlan.
“This is not the Immigration Department’s fault as the vendor had promised to do better than the previous vendor.
“It’s time they honour what they had promised.
“We are reviewing their contract and may change our minds if this issue is not resolved,” he said when commenting on a statement issued by a Datasonic spokesman on Friday.
The spokesman had denied Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional Sdn Bhd (PKN) — tasked with printing the passport booklets and embed the poly carbonate data page containing a microchip supplied by Datasonic Technologies — and the Immigration Department had rejected a large number of passport microchips that had defects, thus resulting in the shortage.
The spokesman said the shortage of passports could be due to PKN shutting operations for six days for Hari Raya last month.
Nur Jazlan said the blame game must stop and that the parties involved must quickly fix the problem.
“The vendor should take full responsibility and solve the problem instead of pointing fingers.”
PKN was recently awarded a six-month extension, from June 1 to Nov 30, to print passports for the department.
Effective December 1, Datasonic will take over PKN’s role as the main contractor by printing and supplying passports to the department.
The company imports the data pages from Swiss-based Trub AG.
The spokesman said microchips the company supplied to PKN go through “three stringent 100 per cent quality checks” by Trub, Datasonic and PKN before the data page is embedded into the passports.
PKN had been supplying passports to the department for almost two decades.
Malaysia became the first country in the world to issue bio-metric passports, better known as E-Passports, in 1998. Then, Iris Corporation Bhd had supplied the passports and supporting mechanism to PKN.
On December 15 last year, Datasonic was awarded a RM318.75 million contract from the ministry to supply 12.5 million Malaysian passports containing the embedded data pages from Dec 1 this year until Nov 30, 2021.
In May, the company was awarded another contract, valued at RM260.4 million, to supply 12 million MyKad over a period of 40 months.