PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The familiar red Malaysian passport has received a design upgrade - but within its pretty pages is a host of enhanced security features as well.
The new design, which sports resplendent batik designs in blue, red and orange on its pages, has drawn praise from all who have seen it.
The inside cover has songket motifs resembling a golden weave, while two hibiscus flowers bloom on the inside back cover.
The inside pages also feature iconic national landmarks such as the Petronas Twin Towers, Kuala Lumpur Tower, Istana Negara and Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in Malaysia.
Immigration Department director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali said the design, rolled out on Nov 15, is based on the principles of the Rukunegara, as well as traditions, flora and fauna to showcase the nation's peace and prosperity.
"The Rukunegara principles are evident in the images chosen: a mosque (belief in God); Istana Negara (loyalty to King and country); Parliament (the supremacy of the Constitution); the Federal Court (the rule of law); and the National Museum showing our heritage and culture (courtesy and morality)," he told The Star.
Datuk Seri Mustafar said the travel document has been hailed as being among the most beautiful international passports in the world.
The upgraded security features include an embedded chip in the polycarbonate personal particulars page. Formerly, the chip was in the back cover.
"Every page of the passport also has an added security feature. Verification of the passport's authenticity cannot be done with the naked eye and is only done with ultraviolet light," he said.
The chip's new position also makes the passport harder to forge and allows easier data reading.
The front and back cover also contain additional security features.
Mr Mustafar said almost 20,000 passports with the new design and features were issued between Nov 15 and Nov 29.
"In total, 1.7 million passports were issued from January to October this year. On average, the department issues two million in a year," he added.
The department started issuing the new version at its office at Menara Ikhlas in Putrajaya and will extend it nationwide in stages.
Mr Mustafar stressed that the older passport is still valid for use.
He said the department has done careful quality checks on every new document issued to ensure its authenticity and maintain the high standard of the Malaysian passport.