Monday August 11, 2008
1,000 held in three days
By MUGUNTAN VANAR
KOTA KINABALU: More than 1,000 Filipinos and Indonesians have been detained 72 hours after the launch of Ops Bersepadu to flush out illegal immigrants.
The operation, carried out by comprehensive multi enforcement agencies, was aimed at regularising migrant workers and at the same time, deporting illegal immigrants. Over 3,000 people were brought in to two screening centres set up here.
Deputy Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Abdul Razak Abdul Ghani said a total of 1,032 people were found to be illegal immigrants as of Saturday.
Those detained were sent to temporary immigration detention centres in Menggatal here and in newly-opened centres in Kota Belud from where they will be deported once their travel documents are in place.
“So far, police operations have been smooth in roping in suspected illegal immigrants and we have had no untoward incidents,” he said, adding that the raids were concentrated in the city and the neighbouring Penampang district.
However, police believe that many of the illegal immigrants had gone into hiding in remote villages or had returned to their countries via the back door, in the similar fashion they had entered Malaysia.
Immigration Department is allowing employers who have illegal foreign workers in the plantation, manufacturing, and construction industries and also maids to apply for work passes during the operation period to avoid having them being deported.
The Philippines and Indonesian embassy officials are expected to assist to help these workers to get their travel documents and apply for work passes from the Immigration Department.
The on going operation with no immediate cut-off date, is expected to move to other districts in the west coast of the state before heading to the east coast where sizable numbers of foreigners are working in oil palm plantations.
Hopes are high that the latest operation coordinated by the State Security Council will resolve the long standing problem of illegal immigrants that includes foreigners holding genuine MyKads obtained through fraudulent means