KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) stopped a boat carrying five Indonesian without documents in Tawau waters on Tuesday (July 27) night.
The five Indonesians tried to use the excuse of losing their identity documents during the boat ride when they failed to provide identification but were detained by the MMEA.
The boat, which was captained by a local, was stopped two nautical miles off Tanjung Batu at around 11.45pm on Tuesday.
Tawau zone MMEA director Maritime Captain Siva Kumar Vengadasalam said they made the capture following intelligence gathered about local passenger vessels bringing in immigrants illegally through Tawau waters.
“Our maritime patrol boat, which was on surveillance during Ops Cegah Pati Selatan Covid-19, traced the passenger boat with a local registration coming from Indonesian coastal waters and moving towards Tawau.
“The patrol team then pursued the boat, and the skipper acted aggressively by speeding off, thus losing control and causing the boat to capsize.
“The skipper and the five passengers were rescued and brought to the Tawau jetty, where all passengers failed to provide any identification on the pretext that they had lost their documents when the boat overturned,” Siva said Wednesday (July 28).
Initial investigations found the local skipper to be 17 years old, while the five passengers - two men and three women - were aged between 15 and 58 years old.
The skipper and the passengers are being detained for suspicion of attempting to enter the country through non-gazetted sea routes under the Immigration Act 1959/63.
“RTK tests also found three of the illegals were Covid-19 positive, and they have been handed to the Health Ministry for further action,” Siva Kumar said, adding that they will continue investigations and close contact tracing.