Coronavirus: Malaysia to deport undocumented migrants from next week

Malaysian immigration personnel escort undocumented migrants during a raid in Petaling Jaya on May 20, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

PUTRAJAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Undocumented immigrants in Malaysia will be deported to their respective countries starting next week, says Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said the sending back process will start with Indonesian citizens on June 6.

"All Indonesian illegal immigrants will undergo Covid-19 testing via the Rapid Test Kit Antigen (RTK Antigen) method first in the presence of officials from the Indonesian embassy before being sent back.

"The first phase, which starts on June 6, will involve 2,189 Indonesians, who are currently being detained at immigration depots in Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak, as well as 672 at depots in Sabah," Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri told reporters during the daily briefing on Saturday (May 30).

From the total number of Indonesians involved, the first group will consist of 450 people that will be sent back via three flights to Jakarta, Medan, and Surabaya on June 6, followed by 445 people on June 10 to the same three destinations, he added.

"A total of 1,294 Indonesians will also be sent back to Medan by sea, starting June 22," he said.

Ismail Sabri added that phase two will involve 2,623 people who will be sent back within two months.

"Indonesian embassy officials will also be allowed to conduct consular visits to the depots to finalise travel documents.

"On behalf of the Malaysian government, I would like to thank the Indonesian government for their cooperation in this matter," he said.

The Immigration Department and Wisma Putra are currently in talks with Nepalese and Bangladeshi officials involving 246 Nepalese and 2,476 Bangladeshi undocumented migrants, he added.

"The Cambodian embassy has also expressed their willingness to assist in the deportation of 67 of their citizens.

"We hope other countries will come forward and cooperate with the deportation of their citizens, who are being held at depots nationwide," Ismail Sabri said.

So far, a total of 4,807 undocumented immigrants who are placed at immigration depots in Bukit Jalil, Semenyih and KLIA, as well as Immigration Department personnel, have undergone Covid-19 screenings.

The senior minister also announced that interstate travel restrictions in Malaysia will be relaxed for married couples living in different states starting Monday (June 1).

He said the decision was made during a Special Ministers' Meeting on Saturday, after consulting the police.

"Prior to this, interstate travels are only allowed for work matters and emergency cases, such as death and medical reasons.

"However, we are allowing married couples living in different states to be reunited starting Monday," he told reporters during the daily briefing on Saturday.

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri reminded the people to abide by the standard operating procedures stated during the conditional movement control order (MCO).

"I believe the compliance rate to the conditional MCO is high for the past few days, contributing to the reduction of positive Covid-19 cases.

"If self-regulation among the public continues, it is not impossible for the conditional MCO to end sooner than scheduled," he said.

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