PUTRAJAYA: More than 220,000 illegal immigrants have left Malaysia before the Dec 31 deadline, a much higher figure than anticipated by the authorities.
Immigration Department enforcement director Datuk Ishak Mohamed said the department had originally anticipated 200,000 to leave the country but the number rose even before the raids, which would be conducted by local authorities from Saturday.
The Government has estimated that between 400,000 and 600,000 illegal immigrants are in the country.
Among those who have left the country, nearly 190,000 are Indonesians, followed by Indians, Filipinos and Bangla- deshis.
The Indonesian government is sending its naval ships daily to ferry its citizens home.
On calls by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to scrap the Jan 1 crackdown for fear of worsening humanitarian crisis in the affected countries hit by tsunamis, Ishak said there was no directive to do so.
“As far I am concerned, there is no instruction from the Government to postpone the crackdown.
“However, I have received SMS (short message service) from several NGOs appealing for a delay in the crackdown. This is a policy matter and it depends on the higher-ups to make the decision,” he said when contacted here yesterday.
The National Human Rights Society has been reported as urging Malaysia to scrap the planned crackdown on illegal immigrants because the deportations could worsen the humanitarian crisis in areas hit by tsunamis.
The society had said that deporting migrants to unstable, disaster-stricken areas would contribute to the crisis.
Ishak said the majority of Indonesian illegal immigrants were from Java and not from Aceh province which was badly hit by the crisis.