37 North Korean workers arrested in joint operation in Sarawak
A total of 37 North Korean construction workers were arrested for abusing their social visit pass and overstaying.
They were arrested during an integrated operation, led by the state Immigration Department at a construction site in Kuala Tatau near here yesterday.
The foreigners were working when the raiding party, which included the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and Marine Police, arrived at about 10am.
A source said the four-hour operation was conducted based on the recent instruction of barring North Koreans from leaving the country and for them to obtain visas when entering Malaysia.
Department records also showed that the foreigners had overstayed in Sarawak. They had used social visit passes and had no work permits.
“Those who were arrested could not produce any passports and other documents as it was withheld by their employers. The raiding team has reached out to the employers to facilitate investigation,” the source said.
“Department records show that they had applied for working permits, which were not approved due to certain reasons.”
Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg said that the Sarawak government would seek the advice of the Home and Foreign Ministries to decide on the fate of the 170 North Koreans working in the state.
Meanwhile, Bernama reported that airport frontline authorities at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and klia2 were ready to enforce the order barring North Korean citizens from leaving the country.
Business was as usual at the two airports even though the authorities were on high alert.
Diplomatic ties between Malaysia and North Korea are strained following the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at klia2 on Feb 13.
In Kangar, the Perlis Immigration Department is beefing up monitoring at the MalaysianThai border to ensure that no North Koreans left the country.
Its director, Mohd Amir Othman, said the measure was taken as per instructions received from the Home Ministry.
In Alor Star, the Kedah Immigration Department is doing the same at the Kedah-Thai border.