PETALING JAYA: The Foreign Ministry confirms that 16 Malaysians who were detained in Palembang, Indonesia since Jan 9 have arrived home safely.
Famed "tit-tar" traditional Chinese medicine practitioner Chris Leong was among them.
The 16 individuals, who were detained for allegedly violating their tourist visas, arrived home in two separate flights.
"The first group of 12 arrived in Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) on Sunday (March 10) at 5.10pm on the Garuda Airlines GA 816 flight.
"A second group of four arrived on the same day at 6.50pm on the Malaysia Airlines MH720 flight," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday (March 10).
It said Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah had asked for help from his Indonesian counterpart Ibu Retno LP Marsudi to expedite the legal process for the return of the 16 Malaysians.
The Consulate-General of Malaysia in Medan had also visited the detainees to ensure their welfare was protected besides initiating talks with local authorities to hasten the legal process, the Ministry said.
"This is the third success of the government since the release of 47 Malaysians from detention in Cambodia and eight Malaysians in Liberia recently.
"The government wishes to state its thanks and appreciation to the Indonesian government on their help and cooperation in ensuring the welfare of the detainees is always protected throughout their detention period, besides releasing them and arranging for their safe return to Malaysia," it said.
The ministry said it would always strive to ensure the welfare of Malaysians who are detained overseas.
"However, the ministry urges Malaysians to always respect and obey the rules and regulations of the countries they visit," it said.
On Jan 9, Leong and his 19-member team were detained by Indonesian authorities in Palembang for allegedly violating their tourist visas and conducting illegal commercial activities.
The group claimed to be carrying out "charity work" in the country, but according to Indonesian news agency Antara News Sumsel, the patients who visited the group paid 4.5mil rupiah (RM1,300) for therapeutic services.
Famed "tit-tar" practitioner Chris Leong returns home (updated)
16 Malaysians nabbed in Indonesia