KUALA LUMPUR, June 24 — The Johor Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) said the state’s coasts have become hotspots for people-smuggling syndicates bringing in undocumented migrants from Indonesia to be domestic helpers here.
According to The Star, MMEA director First Maritime Admiral Nurul Hizam Zakaria smuggling routes used for this purpose have been detected on both the east and west coasts of Johor.
He said Pontian and Tanjung Piai were the main landing points on the west coast while these were Tanjung Penyusop to Tanjung Balau in the east, which were used to both smuggle people into the country as well as out, he said.
Nurul Hizam said the syndicates would typically interview the migrants online before arranging to smuggle them.
“Syndicate fees could range from RM500 to RM3,000, depending on the boat type and the level of difficulty to bring them in or help them exit,” he was quoted as saying, with some of the larger syndicates employed speedboats with bigger passenger capacities.
He added that on January 18, the Johor MMEA rescued six undocumented migrants who were being smuggled in through Pontian when the boat they were in sank after being hit by strong waves.
There were two men and eleven women on board, with seven women still missing.
“Early investigations revealed that the two men were the ‘tekong’ while the women were coming to work in the service sector,” said Nurul Hizam.
Separately, Indonesia’s ambassador to Malaysia Hermono warned his countrymen against entering Malaysia unofficially to seek employment, saying this would make them vulnerable to exploitation.
He advised that they use the permitted One Channel System (OCS) as outlines under the Malaysia-Indonesia Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).
“They are at risk of exploitation and being trafficked by certain individuals if they use other channels.
“We don’t have their data, their contact, their work conditions and contract and even the data of the employers… so it will be risky for them,” the envoy was quoted as saying.
On April 1, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri M. Saravanan and Indonesia’s Manpower Minister Ida Fauziyah inked the MoU in Jakarta on the Employment and Protection of Indonesian Domestic Workers.
They agreed upon making One Channel System (OCS) the sole online system to screen employers to ensure that only those eligible could hire Indonesian domestic workers with the minimum monthly salary of RM1,500.
The MoU also outline that the domestic workers would be entitled to annual leave, the right to communicate, and to retain possession of their official documents such as passports.