Security strengthened at Malaysia's northern border amid migrant boat arrivals

Malaysian Maritime police inspect one of the boats which carried illegal migrants in Langkawi on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP
Malaysian Maritime police inspect one of the boats which carried illegal migrants in Langkawi on May 12, 2015. -- PHOTO: AFP

KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Security at the northern border of Malaysia has been strengthened to prevent the influx of illegal immigrants who are fleeing Thailand following a crackdown there, said Deputy Home Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

He said these migrants might enter Malaysia as the Malaysia-Thailand border was porous, The Star reported on Tuesday.

"We have alerted our maritime and marine police to patrol the sea border with our northern neighbours. At the same time, we are strengthening the border security on land," he added.

There has been a huge increase in refugees from impoverished Bangladesh and Myanmar drifting on boats to Malaysia and Indonesia in recent days since Thailand, usually the first destination in the region's people smuggling network, announced a crackdown on the trafficking.

Many of those aboard are ethnic Rohingya, considered by the United Nations to be one of the world's most persecuted minorities.

More than 1,000 migrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar landed in Malaysia after being dumped by human traffickers in shallow waters off the resort island of Langkawi, police said Monday.

Dr Wan Junaidi said police and immigration officers were currently investigating what had happened to the migrants found in Langkawi and ascertaining their nationalities.

The Immigration Department and Home Ministry will also coordinate with the respective embassies for repatriation of their nationals, he added.