Sarawak goes after illegals despite amnesty extension


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 02 Feb 2005

KUCHING: The Sarawak Immigration Department rounded up 28 illegal immigrants in Lundu district as state-wide operations started early yesterday. 

State Immigration director Robert Lian said 18 immigration enforcement officers and 107 Rela members were involved in the crackdown. 

Saying that the department had not been informed of the extension of the amnesty period, he said the operation to nab the illegal immigrants was continuing. 

After reading yesterday’s news report on the extension of the amnesty period, Lian said the department would just deport the illegal immigrants arrested during this extended period instead of bringing them to court. 

“During the amnesty period, 15,656 illegal immigrants went home.  

“On Monday, 614 of them returned to Indonesia via the Tebedu check point (at the Sarawak-West Kalimantan border),” he said at his office in Bangunan Sultan Iskandar yesterday. 

During the 2002 amnesty period, over 6,600 illegal immigrants returned home. 

Lian said the state authorities had earlier estimated that there were only some 10,000 illegal immigrants and he would not know how many were still left in the state. 

He said the department was going after employers of illegal immigrants and warned that those convicted of the offence faced at least a RM50,000 fine or imprisonment of up to 12 months or both or whipping up to six strokes under the Immigration Act. 

“It would be cheaper for employers to pay the levy for immigrant workers than the penalty if they are convicted in court for hiring the illegal immigrants,” Lian added. 

The levy for domestic maids and plantation migrant workers is RM360 a year and between RM600 and RM720 each per year for foreign workers in other industries and the service sector. 

He said there were now 157,000 migrant workers in the state and most of them were Indonesians employed in timber-based factories, industries and plantations as well as working as domestic maids.  

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