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Crackdown starts in Sabah
Published on: Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: A Briton was among 331 illegal immigrants arrested in a massive nationwide crackdown on illegal immigrants in Sabah that began just after midnight, Monday.

Sabah Immigration Director Noor Alam Khan A. Wahid Khan said the Briton, in his 50s, who is a professional, was detained after 857 people were hauled up and screened in the operation dubbed "Ops 5P Bersepadu" which began 12.01am.

"The Briton was arrested about 9am while attending a meeting in a construction site at 9am and was detained for abusing his work permit that is only valid in the peninsula," he said, when contacted, Tuesday.

Noor Alam was commenting on the number of illegals, including foreign workers in Sabah, following the nationwide launch of the large-scale operation on Tuesday.

He said the integrated operation with various enforcement agencies like police, Federal Task Force, Rela, Civil Defence Department, National Registration Department (NRD) and Esscom, among others, was conducted at squatter and construction sites here, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Sandakan, Keningau and Labuan.

"Of the 331 held in Sabah, some 191 were Filipinos and 120 Indonesians, 150 of them men, 108 women while 53 others were children and were detained for committing various immigration offences. Among the offences they committed were illegal entry and staying in Sabah without any valid documents and overstaying.

"All will be sent to the three temporary detention centres in Papar, Sandakan and Tawau," he said, adding that Ops 5P (Registration, Amnesty, Monitoring, Enforcement and Deportation) is only carried out in Sabah compared to Ops 6P which includes regularisation (Pemutihan) in the peninsula.

In SANDAKAN, 35 foreigners were detained for having no documents at two illegal squatter areas in Mile 8. Nineteen were men and the rest women aged between 20 and 59 from Philippines.

The operation led by Sandakan Immigration Department Deputy Director, Muhammad Isa Halsey started at 12.30am until 4.30am. The operation also involved officers from the National Registration Department and Rela personnel.

The foreigners were sent to the Sibuga Temporary Detention Centre here for 14 days before further action is taken.

In LABUAN, a midnight swoop until 4 am, Tuesday, saw 17 women taken into custody for investigation into illegal entry, abuse of social visit and related offences.

Eighty six personnel headed by Immigration Officer Mohd Akhair Mahamud raided premises in the town suspected to be quarters of illegal immigrants. The department's Deputy Director Yusop Haji Dulang clarified that the 17 were not arrested but held for questioning.

After investigation the papers would be referred to the Deputy Prosecution office for further action. Sixteen of the women were Filipinas and one Indonesian. In all, 206 foreigners were screened and their papers checked. The operations were expected to be ongoing.

Those coming from Asean countries are given three months on arrival, but a common offence was overstaying and working without permit which is an abuse of their passport.

With regards to human trafficking, Yusop said Labuan had no such case over the last two years.

He reminded employers they could be charged in court for employing immigrants without proper documentation.

"They could be jailed up to five years and fined RM10,000 on each charge.

For having more than five employees who are illegals, they could be given a maximum of six strokes of the rotan."

Even landlords were not exempted from the law.

Renting rooms to immigrants without legal papers constitutes sheltering.

"It is of public interest to report to the department if there is any suspicion of such activities," Yusop added.

The deportation of the illegal immigrants to their home countries would be borne by the employers and the respective embassies.

To prevent them from returning to Malaysia under a different name, their biometric fingerprint would be recorded.

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