48 ILLEGALS LEFT WITH NO FOOD, WATER FOR 2 DAYS
Immigrants duped into paying syndicate for boat passage back to Indonesia
AGROUP of 48 Indonesian illegal immigrants, including a nine-month old baby boy, were left in the lurch by a syndicate when they had to survive for two days without food and water in a mangrove forest in Pungai, Sungai Rengit, here.
They were left to fend for themselves while waiting for the boat to take them home.
The 43 men, four women and the baby were duped into believing that they would have a passage home.
Region Two Marine Police deputy commander Superintendent Shaari Ariffin said the illegals each paid the syndicate between RM700 and RM1,400 to ferry them to Indonesia by speedboat.
Syndicate members dropped them off at the mangrove forest on Friday night.
They had taken the money from each of the illegals before leaving them with an instruction to wait for a boat skipper to fetch them.
Shaari said two days passed with no sign of any boat skipper, and the illegals were starving.
He said many did not dare to venture out of the mangrove for fear that the boat skipper might turn up thus leaving them behind.
Shaari said an operation conducted by the Region Two Marine Police at 8pm on Sunday turned into a rescue mission.
The seven-member marine police team rescued the illegals and saved them from starvation.
Shaari said police were on the lookout for the syndicate.
He said in most cases, illegals who waited in mangroves along the coast would need to make a quick dash into a waiting boat to avoid being detected.
“Normally, illegal immigrants wait for a few hours in the mangrove before the boat comes.
“An informer will notify the boat skipper to come and fetch them when the coast is clear and no authorities were around.
“But when the boat arrives, the entire group must board the boat and leave the area within five minutes to avoid detection.”
Shaari said most of the syndicates involved in such activities could not be trusted to protect the safety of the illegal immigrants as they were only concerned about being paid.
“Not only do they deceive the immigrants by promising a safe passage via illegal sea routes, they also cheat the illegals into paying for dubious services,” he said.
The 48 illegals were taken to the Bandar Penawar police station to have their statements recorded, pending the handover of the case to the Immigration Department.
The Indonesian illegal immigrants after they were rescued by marine police in Kota Tinggi yesterday.