Malaysia Detains 84 Filipinos In Sabah

September 19, 2007 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

ZAMBOANGA CITY, Philippines (Mindanao Examiner / 19 Sept) – Malaysian authorities arrested dozens of Filipinos for illegally entering northern Sabah, reports said on Wednesday.

Police arrested 84 people, including 17 children, after they were intercepted in two boats during a special three-day operation at the Sungai Kanibungan river mouth in Sabah’s northern Pitas district, Malaysia’s The Star reported.

It said police also seized from one of the Filipino skippers of the boats 5,500 turtle eggs and 335 boxes of cigarettes believed smuggled from the Philippines.

With the arrest, police said it uncovered a new landing point for illegal immigrants in northern Sabah.

“They have come into a very remote area to avoid detection,” said Deputy Superintendent Mohd Isa Yusoff, chief of the Kota Marudu police force.

Tens of thousands of illegal Filipinos have been arrested in Sabah the past years and many of them had illegally crossed the oil-rich Malaysian state by boat from Tawi-Tawi island to work in construction sites despite a strict government campaign.

Others were duped by illegal recruiters who promised them work in hotels and resorts in Malaysia, but ended up without jobs and money and had been forced to work in palm oil plantations under constant fear of being arrested.

Malaysia began a crackdown on up to 500,000 illegal foreign workers since 2005 and conducting searches that extended from construction sites in Kuala Lumpur to oil palm plantations in Sabah. The round-up usually involved police, immigration and volunteer squads.

Kuala Lumpur had previously given amnesty that allowed illegal immigrants to leave the country with a promise they could return as legal workers once they received proper documents. The government’s tough action has enjoyed popular support in Malaysia, where illegal workers, who had numbered more than a million in a country of 24 million people, have been blamed for crime and other social ills.

Malaysia said the illegal workers do not pay tax and put a heavy burden on state services, such as education and health care, increasing pressure on an already high budget deficit. Some Filipino deportees said they were herded into overcrowded detention camps before being expelled and others reported tales of abuses inside Malaysian jails. (Mindanao Examiner)

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