Immigrants duped into pay­ing syn­di­cate for boat pas­sage back to In­done­sia

New Straits Times - - News | Nation - HALIM SAID KOTA TINGGI news@nst.com.my

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.

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