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Tuesday, November 29, 2016

'Modified scanner software reason why new passports can't be read'



A passport supplier has alleged that the aging scanner and "modified" scanner software could be among reasons why new passports, issued after May 17, cannot be read at the e-Gate of the Immigration checkpoints for the past three months.
This was according to a senior official of the Datasonic Technologies Sdn Bhd, the supplier of new passports' polycarbonate datapage and embedded chips.
"The problem may be due to the old passport scanner and software-related issues," he told Malaysiakini.
"It is understood that the maintenance vendor of the autogate had changed the scanning software by the end of August 2016," he claimed, adding this had led to the passport clearance problem at the autogates.
The scanner would read the chips in both old and new passport simultaneously instead of first detecting the old passports and then only later reading the new passport, he explained.
The chips of the old passports were inserted at the back of the passport booklets while it was inserted in polycarbonate datapage, which were placed at the front page of passport booklets.
The changed scanner would read both the old and new passport booklet simultaneously, he elaborated.
"The issue is compounded by old scanners that are very sensitive to movement when scanning is in progress." 
Media report caused wrong perception
According to him, there were misunderstanding and wrong perception through some media that the new passport chips are of inferior quality.
"Some passport holders were confused as to the new method of using the autogate during the initial migration to the new passport from mid-May to August 2016."

Datasonic Technologies was awarded a RM318.75 million contract to supply 12.5 million polycarbonate datapage from Dec 1 to Nov 2021.
It was also awarded a five-year contract worth RM223.38 million to supply 13.42 million passport booklets during the same period.
The current passport supplier, Percetakan Keselamatan Nasional Sdn Bhd (PKN) had been given a six-month extension to supply two million passport booklets and chips from June 1, 2016 to Nov 30.
Iris Corporation, the inventor of e-passports, supplied passport chips to PKN.
Datasonic was blamed for the passport shortage fiasco where panicking Malaysians rushed to apply for new passport in the wee hours in July and August.
The IT solution company was also criticised when news of new passports being incompatible with the autogate system broke out.
It was reported that the new passports' defective chips, supplied by Datasonic, contributed to these problems.
Datasonic had vehemently denied these allegation.
It had claimed only 0.24 percent out of 523,940 units of chips that were delivered and verified by the main contractor before production as of June 2016, were rejected.
"The chips and operating system used in the new and old passport are from the same source," said the senior officer.
Malaysiakini had reported that the new passport holders were still facing difficulties in obtaining clearance at the e-Gate at KLIA, KLIA2 and Johor-Singapore borders in October despite the problem first being reported five months earlier.
The news portal had contacted Iris Corporation Bhd, the supplier of the passport chips and the supplier, maintenance vendor of 120 nationwide, and its chairman Razali Ismail for comment three weeks ago.
Iris had requested more time to reply while Razali urged the writer to contact the company directly.
'Things are improving'
The news portal also attempted to contact Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed and Immigration director-general Mustafar Ali for comment.
Nur Jazlan had said the problems involving some autogates failing to detect new Malaysian passports were being resolved and improving.
While the Datasonic official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the government saved more than RM100 million for a duration of five-and-a-half years for both chips and booklets.
"We proposed to upgrade autogate free of charge in December 2015 so that old and new passport holders with the embedded chips in the datapages can use the autogates based on open read process," he said.
The company had successfully demonstrated both new and old passports could be read using the autogate supplied by the vendor but upgraded with new readers and scanner provided by Datasonic.
According to him, Datasonic offered to upgrade the autogates at immigration checkpoints by stages for free in April.
The vendor, however pledged to upgrade the autogate system and passed the same test.

"The Home Ministry and Immigration Department have discussed with relevant parties and have instructed all vendors related to autogates to work as one team to resolve the issues," said the senior official.
He claimed that the government had identified the cause of new passports as being incompatible with autogates.
"The situation has greatly improved after identifying the source of the issue and engaging more resources to guide the passport holders on using the autogate," he said.- Mkini

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