600 KLIA staff transferred, some suspected of trafficking

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PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Some 600 Immigration staff have been transferred out of the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) station after some of them were suspected of being involved in the smuggling in of Bangladeshis.

Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said of the number, only a handful was involved with syndicates that used their "immigration friends" to bring in more Bangladeshis into their country.

However, he did not reveal the actual number of those transferred due to their suspected involvement with the syndicates.

The transfer of other officers is in accordance with the civil service rotation policy as stipulated in a government circular, Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid added.

He said that following the uncovering of the activities, the department took the immediate measure of transferring staff, pending investigations.

"I am pleased by how the director-general (Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali) is dealing with the issue. This handful of officers, who have been violating the laws and working with syndicates, will be dealt with. We do not condone such acts.

"Let us not forget that thousands of other Immigration personnel are dedicated and efficient in their work," he said after chairing the committee on foreign workers and illegal immigrants on Friday (Dec 15).

Dr Ahmad Zahid said as part of the ongoing probe, five more people, including two Immigration officers at KLIA, were arrested on Thursday to assist in investigations.

The others are civilians, including two foreigners.

This brings the total number of arrests to seven people.

"We have asked the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to help in the investigation. We do not tolerate this violation of the law as it involves national security," he said.

According to reports, four syndicates were behind the smuggling of Bangladeshi workers into the country via KLIA.

It is believed the syndicates are raking in RM5.2 million (S$ 1.7 million) in profits annually by charging between RM15,000 and RM20,000 for each person to make it easier for them to bypass the authorities, including Immigration and the Malaysian High Commission in Dhaka.

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