37 North Korean work­ers ar­rested in joint oper­a­tion in Sarawak

New Straits Times - - News - Re­port by Adib Povera and Kan­dau Sidi

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.

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