Malaysia to screen potential Myanmar migrant workers following Penang murders

Myanmar nationals wishing to visit or work in Malaysia will be screened to find out if they have a criminal record, said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. -- PHOTO: THE STAR
Myanmar nationals wishing to visit or work in Malaysia will be screened to find out if they have a criminal record, said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi. -- PHOTO: THE STAR

KUALA LUMPUR (The Star/Asia News Network) - Myanmar nationals wishing to visit or work in Malaysia will be screened to find out if they have a criminal record, said Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

Ahmad Zahid said only those without any criminal record would be permitted to enter the country following a spate of murders involving Myanmar suspects in Penang.

"I have discussed this matter with the Myanmar Labour Minister. The recent murders are a concern for both countries," he told a press conference after launching a seminar for Bukit Aman department directors and police chiefs on Monday.

Some 28 killings were part of 51 murders that took place in Penang this year, the Malay Mail Online news reported last on Dec 5. At least 18 of the victims have been identified as Myanmar nationals. Eighteen other victims were Malaysians.

Police have detained at least 20 Myanmar nationals including a woman over the past few weeks in an operation codenamed Ops Kelar that was launched to solve the murders.

Ahmad Zahid said the ministry was working with the Myanmar Embassy in Malaysia to monitor Myanmar nationals in the country.

"We are also checking those with UNHCR (United Nations High Commisssioner for Refugees) cards to ensure that they are not involved in any criminal activity," he said.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, who attended the event, said 12 Myanmar nationals were still being detained in connection with the murders in Penang.

"We are looking for a few more (suspects). Initial investigations revealed the murders were due to revenge, private and family problems and debts. We urge the public to refrain from speculating that the murders were related to communal or religious issues," he said.

On another matter, Ahmad Zahid said the ministry was strenghtening its standard operating procedure for border checkpoints.

"The Immigration department will be acquiring new scanners at entry points along with high definition CCTV and a facial imaging machine," he said.