600 officers transferred after KLIA smuggling ring bust

PUTRAJAYA • Some 600 officers from Malaysia's immigration department have been transferred out of Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) as some are suspected of working with criminal syndicates to smuggle in workers from Bangladesh.

Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said only a handful of these officers were involved with the smuggling ring, but the government has decided to transfer some 600 out of Malaysia's biggest airport.

"I am pleased by how the (Immigration) director-general (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," said Datuk Seri Zahid, who is also Deputy Prime Minister.

"Let us not forget that thousands of other immigration personnel are dedicated and efficient in their work," said Mr Zahid after chairing a meeting on foreign workers and illegal immigrants on Friday.

Malaysia is a popular destination for Asian workers as it is easy to get blue-collar jobs.

In June, the Home Affairs Ministry said there were 1.78 million migrant workers with valid work permits, with most of them from Indonesia, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Labour sources have estimated that more than a million other foreign workers are in the country without valid work permits or travel documents.

On Thursday, the Malaysian authorities nabbed five people at KLIA to help in investigations into the case, including two immigration officers. That brought the total arrested 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," Mr Zahid said.

According to reports, four syndicates were behind the smuggling of Bangladeshi workers into the country via KLIA. There are 38 flights daily serving Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka, Bangladesh's capital.

It is believed the syndicates charge between RM15,000 (S$4,960) and RM20,000 to smuggle in each worker.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 17, 2017, with the headline '600 officers transferred after KLIA smuggling ring bust'. Print Edition | Subscribe