GEORGE TOWN: It could be punishing, and sometimes even life-threatening, for Indonesians to sneak illegally into Malaysia. And when they want to leave, they would have to pay a price to access secure routes home.
A source revealed that it could cost an illegal immigrant between RM3,000 and RM5,000 or more to return to Indonesia.
“The amount paid to agents to coordinate their ‘escapes’ via tongkang would largely depend on the season when the enforcement bodies are active or when there is high demand.
“These workers are usually those who have been working illegally here for many years,” said the source.
The source claimed that alternatively, the illegal workers could go through the legal process and surrender to the Immigration Department to be formally deported home.
“But many of them would rather sneak back to their homeland to avoid being blacklisted as they probably have plans to come back again,” said the source.
The source noted that these illegal migrants were mainly those who had acquired enough skills and decided to flee from their employers for other jobs with higher salary, or those who had arrived as tourists and overstayed.
The source claimed that the cost to return home illegally could be just a fraction of their earnings here in Malaysia since they did not pay any income tax or levy.
As Hari Raya draws near, there is a festive rush as migrant workers join the exodus to return home to celebrate with their loved ones.
A renovations contractor said his Indonesian worker would take long “leave” and allow himself to be caught before Hari Raya.
“Then he would willingly pay the deportation fine and let himself be deported.
“When he comes back after Raya, he would carry a new passport bearing a new name on it,” said the contractor.
Another contractor said he had heard stories about migrant workers’ deportation by sea.
“My workers say that when their deportation boat is in the middle of the sea, another boat would arrive from Indonesia.
“My workers pay the boat captain and get to board the new boat which will take them straight to the village,” he revealed, adding that it had been a regular practice for many years.
An entertainment outlet owner said his Indonesian workers would tell him stories of how they would board a fishing trawler from a village in Johor.
“They would hide in a kampung house and wait for the agent to tell them when it is safe to go out, which is usually in the mid-afternoon.
“As it is a big trawler that cannot get close to the beach, they would have to wade through the sea to reach the boat.
“They must tie all their belongings tightly in plastic bags,” he claimed.
Meanwhile, Universiti Sains Malaysia criminologist Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy urged employers to stop hiring illegal workers as it may affect national security.
“Many employers here are willing to violate the law to get cheap labour by hiring illegals.
“When they do that, we have no record of these workers such as their past criminal or health records.
“Apart from the potential rise in social problems due to crime, we also have to be cautious of terrorist groups.
“They may not commit the act here but may be collecting intelligence for others, and this is a threat to national security,” he added.
In dealing with the large number of illegal workers in the country, Sundramoorthy hoped that the Immigration Department would be assisted by the police, who are professionally trained to conduct enforcement.
“The Immigration Department is too small to deal with a large number of illegals, and the number of illegals here is merely an estimate.
“Perhaps the police, who are professionally trained, can be given the authority to help with the enforcement,” he said.
In Kangar, Perlis Border Security Agency (Aksem) commander DSP Syed Basri Syed Ali said it was not possible for Indonesian immigrants to use the rat trails in the state to slip out of the country.
“The rat trails are located at the perimeter fencing bordering Malaysia and Thailand, which is heavily guarded by the General Operation Force. There is no way they would want to use this route.
“So far, we do not have records of illegal Indonesian immigrants entering or leaving the northern border in Perlis,” he said when contacted yesterday.