PETALING JAYA: The Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has detected a new method to smuggle in Indonesian domestic workers through Johor waters.
Its director First Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria said a syndicate offering employment interviewed potential maids online before organising and managing the movement of the illegal immigrants into the country.
He said on Jan 18, the Johor MMEA rescued six illegal immigrants who were being smuggled in through Pontian waters when the boat they were in sank after being hit by strong waves.
There were 13 people – two males and 11 females – on board. Seven of the women went missing.
“Early investigations revealed that the two men were the ‘tekong’ while the women were coming to work in the service sector. The case was then transferred to the Immigration Department and police,” he said.
Nurul Hizam said Johor waters were a hotspot for syndicates to smuggle illegal immigrants as they were close to neighbouring countries and divided west and east Johor.
“We have detected certain ‘rat routes’ that were used to smuggle illegal immigrants, through Pontian and Tanjung Piai in west Johor and Teluk Ramunia and the east coast of Johor from Tanjung Penyusop to Tanjung Balau in the east.
“There is no doubt that there are rat routes for ‘wet illegal immigrants’ (smuggled in) and ‘dry illegal immigrants’ (smuggled out). These routes are constantly monitored by the MMEA and other authorities,” he said.
Nurul Hizam also said the MMEA detained 25 Indonesians (12 men, 13 women) trying to enter Malaysia through Tanjung Piai and Teluk Ramunia waters in two separate operations.
The men confessed to searching for employment especially in the Johor plantation sector while the women were looking to be hired as domestic helpers.
Big syndicates, he explained, used larger speed boats to ferry a higher number of illegal immigrants including those trying to enter Malaysia, and to pick up others trying to flee from Malaysia at certain locations.
Nurul Hizam said that they were willing to pay up to RM3,000 to enter Malaysia.
“Syndicate fees could range from RM500 to RM3,000, depending on the type of boat and the level of difficulty to bring in these illegal immigrants or help them exit illegally,” he said.
Nurul Hizam added that some of these syndicates would also use small wooden boats and moved slowly to avoid being detected by the Malaysian Maritime Surveillance System radar.