Homeward bound: The passengers waiting anxiously at the terminal in Port Klang to board the ferry which will take them home to Indonesia.
KUALA LUMPUR: They may have stayed in the country illegally but the Home Ministry has offered some 200,000 Indonesians a safe one-way trip to their home land for Hari Raya.
This amnesty deal comes in the wake of boat tragedies involving unlicensed operators in dangerous waters. The Indonesians pay a hefty price for the trip – sometimes with their lives.
Preferring to term it as a “voluntary deportation programme”, Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said those who voluntarily take up the option would need to pay a minimum RM300 compound and RM100 for a one-way pass to return home.
He said besides the RM400, those going home under the programme would have to show a ticket of proof that they intended to return to Indonesia.
“Compare this to syndicates charging up to RM2,000 to bring them through illegal and dangerous routes.
“They were also fined RM3,000 for flouting Malaysian immigration laws,” he told The Star.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the offer, from July 18 to Dec 31, was being made to all illegal immigrants and was aptly starting at a time when there was an exodus of Indonesians returning to their homeland for Aidilfitri.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said the ministry would work closely with the Indonesian embassy to ensure the success of the voluntary deportation programme.
He said most foreign workers were attracted to lucrative jobs in Malaysia but when the work ended, they would overstay.
He hoped the illegals would grab the “golden chance” to return to their country legally.
“The legal way will be safer with less hassle compared to risking their lives while paying a hefty fee to the syndicates,” he said.
Dr Ahmad Zahid said most illegals in the country were from Indonesia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Nepal, Bangladesh and India.