PUTRAJAYA: Preliminary investigations have revealed that the fishermen detained in Indonesian waters for illegal fishing are not Malaysians as they do not speak Bahasa Malaysia nor possess Malaysian identification documents.
The investigation was undertaken by the Malaysian consulate in Pontianak, Indonesia, together with the Indonesian authorities on Nov 22, the Foreign Ministry said in a press statement Wednesday.
The Ministry also said that Indonesian authorities claimed to have detained 524 boat people and 153 boats while conducting a security and public order operation Nov 16 to 17 around Berau district, East Kalimantan and between Pulau Derawan up to Pulau Panjang, Berau, East Kalimantan.
The detainees were held for illegal fishing in Indonesian waters and violating immigration rules for not possessing a permit or valid identification.
Indonesian authorities were in the midst of verifying the identity and personal information of the detainees, it said.
It said the Malaysian Embassy in Indonesia had received a diplomatic note from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia on the matter on Nov 24, it said.
"The Foreign Ministry will continue to communicate with the Indonesian authorities to verify the citizenship of the detainees, so that consular assistance could be rendered to them accordingly.
"Malaysia hopes that the verification process by the Indonesian authorities could be completed as soon as possible," it said.
It was reported Saturday that the Malaysian Embassy in Jakarta had sent its officers on a fact-finding mission to determine if the 200 fishermen detained in Kalimantan were indeed Malaysians.
A foreign news report had said that Indonesia detained the fishermen during a crackdown on illegal fishing, but details on their identity were sketchy.
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