MIRI: Sarawakians without personal documents are also ending up being arrested during the swoop on illegal foreign fishermen that is currently being carried out by the authorities in Miri, according to PAS Sarawak deputy chairman Jofri Jaraiee.
He said it was an act of gross negligence to arrest these Sarawakians just because they had no Mykad.
Jofri, who is PAS Miri chairman, said that recently a local Sarawakian fisherman had complained to the Miri PAS office here that his wife and children had been mistaken as illegal foreigners and had been arrested during an operation carried out by the Immigration Department and other enforcement agencies.
“A resident of Kampung Baru told us that his wife and children were recently arrested and detained at the immigration detention centre in Bekenu simply because they were found to be without MyKad,” Jofri in an email.
“The man, Yahya Abdullah, is a Sarawakian of Melanau background, and he works as a fisherman. He came to our party’s office and sought our assistance because his wife and children had been mistaken to be illegal foreigners”
Jofri said the woman and children were detained along with other foreign fishermen during an operation.
“His wife and children were accused of being illegals because they could not produce their identity card. What happened was that a few years ago, Yahya’s house was burned down and the family lost all their personal documents.
“They did not reapply for replacement documents. Yahya is very worried that his wife and children will end up being deported to the Philippines or Indonesia simply because they have no documents to prove they are Sarawakians.”
The Immigration Department, police, the Miri City Council and other enforcement bodies are currently conducting raids at various places in Miri and outskirts to nab illegal foreign fishermen.
This follows complaints from local fishermen that their harvest of shrimps during the current season had dwindled because illegal foreign fishermen from the Philippines had been competing for the catch in the waters off the South China Sea fronting northern Sarawak.
So far, about 200 illegal fishermen from the southern Philippines had been detained and sent to the Bekenu immigration detention centre pending deportation.
Jofri yesterday warned that unless proper checks were made during enforcement raids, there was a danger that genuine Sarawakians might end up being wrongfully arrested and deported.
“It is very easy to mistakenly view indigenous natives as being foreigners if they do not have personal documents.
“That is why it is very important for those carrying out the raids to check very thoroughly the backgrounds of all those they suspect to be illegals.
“Check with the local community leaders or ketua kampung. Check with the neighbours and friends to make sure they do not arrest genuine Sarawakians,” he urged.
Jofri also called for a more humane and cautious approach when carrying out such raids.