In the black market, the Singapore Passport is a very precious commodity (citation needed) and in view of this, the Singapore government decided to impose stricter penalties on the loss of passports. The article below was reproduced from straitstimes.com (consider getting a subscription? 😛 ):

STIFFER penalties await those who misuse the Singapore passport under a new law passed on Monday.

And a person who has lost two passports or more may be denied a new one by the Controller of Immigration.

Explaining the move, Deputy Prime Minister and Home Affairs Minister Wong Kan Seng said it was necessary to safeguard the security and integrity of the highly-regarded Singapore passport in today’s security environment.

‘As the Singapore passport provides easy visa-free access to many countries, it is also an attractive document for abuse,’ Mr Wong told Parliament.

He said criminals and terrorists have used altered or fake passports to travel: Suspected Bali bombing mastermind Hambali, caught in 2003, reportedly used a fake Spanish passport.

Current efforts against passport abuse have put a lid on the crime, with 74 cases last year against 116 in 2003, added Mr Wong.

But if such abuse was left unchecked, Singaporeans who travel could be inconvenienced as foreign authorities might doubt the authenticity of Singapore passports.

Singapore also had to minimise such abuse as a responsible member of the international community, he said.

Mr Wong cited a case to show existing penalties were ‘grossly inadequate’.

A Singaporean arrested last year for selling lost or stolen local and foreign passports to a syndicate was jailed for 15 months for fraudulent possession of property.

The law did not provide for the offence of selling passports.

With the new law, a jail term and fine is mandatory for a person who is in the business of selling Singapore passports.

The jail term is from two years up to 15 years and the fine, up to $20,000.

For other types of offences involving a Singapore passport, they can be jailed up to 10 years, fined up to $10,000 or given both penalities.

The offences include: improper use or possession of a Singapore passport, falsifying a Singapore passport, giving false information to get a passport and the unauthorised issuing of a passport by government officers.

Offenders caught tampering or misusing foreign passports here will also be taken to court.

Likewise, misuse of the Singapore passport abroad will be an offence.

There will also be tighter controls on passports: A passport can be denied to someone for law enforcement or national security reasons, to prevent him from doing harm overseas.

While I am aware of the severity of losing one’s passport, I am a little shocked (and to a certain extent, appalled) about the denial of issue of passport. It’s like a house arrest in your own country and there’s nowhere else that you can go to besides Sentosa or Pulau Tekong (for your ICT? 😛 ). But hey, it really isn’t that bad because your travel destination will still include exotic places like Chek Jawa @ Pulau Ubin, Tua Pekong Temple @ Kusu Island and diving spots @ Pulau Biola. Occasionally, you may still go to the breakwaters @ Lower Seletar Reservoir where you will be able to admire an smell the sea on one side and the reservoir on the other. Moreover, you may see some “fireworks” at JB on some nights. After enjoying the sea breeze, you can top that up with prata @ Jln Kayu!

Oh wait, wasn’t this entry about Singapore Passport?



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