PUTRAJAYA, Dec 6 — Sabah’s terrain and vast territorial waters are among the main challenges facing the State Immigration Department to curb the entry of illegal immigrants (PATI) into the country, said Malaysian Immigration Department director-general Datuk Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
Apart from that, he said, the location of the migrants’ settlements in watery and difficult to reach places made it difficult for the immigration enforcement personnel to arrest those who took refuge there.
“Another challenge facing the Sabah immigration is to get the cooperation of the public in to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants, as well as the public’s lack of awareness that it is an offence to harbour or protect illegal immigrants.
“Most employers also prefer to employ PATI because of low wage, compared with local workers, especially in the plantation, agriculture, construction and services sectors,” he told Bernama.
Khairul Dzaimee said since the COVID-19 pandemic, operations carried out by the department are required to comply with the prescribed standard operating procedures (SOP) to prevent enforcement officers, as well as the immigrants, from the virus infection.
“The illegal immigrants who are detained are also required to be sent to a transit quarantine centre before they are sent and placed at the Temporary Detention Centre,” he said, adding that the department, as well as other enforcement agencies, seek the public cooperation to report on the entry of illegal immigrants into the country, and not protect them.
He said the responsibility to prevent the entry of illegal immigrants into the country is borne by the security forces alone, as it is also the responsibility of the community to together safeguard the country’s security and sovereignty.
“We call on the public to assist the security forces and other enforcement authorities by providing information on any border intrusion to the National Task Force Hotline at 011-62511223,” he said.