No recent smuggling of migrants in Johor waters

KOTA TINGGI: The Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) and the Australia Border Force (ABF) have not detected any smuggling of West Asian migrants in the waters of Johor for the past few years due to their continuous integrated operations especially in Operation Redback since 2011.

Its director Maritime Rear Admiral Datuk Abu Bakar Idris said the strict rules or regulations implemented by the operation had to a certain extent reduced the smuggling of migrants to third countries especially from Afghanistan and Iran.

“Indeed, there were such activities in the past because they treated Malaysia and Indonesia as transit countries to enter a third country.

“However, over the past few years, I have been told the statistics (migrants) have dropped drastically and you (the reporter) can verify this with my regional counterpart - Australia,” he said at the opening ceremony of Series 11/2018 of Operation Redback at the Tanjung Sedili MACC office.

Abu Bakar said with the full commitment of all parties from various countries, MACC believed the issue of smuggling of migrants could be cut to zero in the future.

Meanwhile, ABF South East Asia Regional director commander Chris Water said the input gleaned from Operation Redback had succeeded in opening the eyes of the Malaysian and Australian governments on the latest tactics used by criminals in smuggling migrants and other activities.

He said as a country close to the Asian region that is often the focus of migrant smuggling syndicates, Australia placed much importance on learning new criminal tactics as well as sharing intelligence information with affected countries.

“I think it is important for us to know that people smuggling (migrant smuggling) is a regional problem and requires a regional solution.

“No one (country) can really solve it (by itself) as the syndicate is always there and getting smarter. They try to find whatever resources that can be exploited.

“So, we need to work together regionally and Operation Redback is a very good example for us to share experiences and knowledge,” he said.

The Operation Redback comprised 130 MMEA members and involved two ships and five boats. — Bernama

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