KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 – The Royal Malaysian Customs Department (JKDM) is intensifying operations to prevent migrant smuggling which looks set to increase despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
JKDM (enforcement division) senior assistant director, Najmi Mohd Radzi, said factors influencing the rise are the reopening of the economy and achieving over 80 per cent vaccine coverage.
“In order to curb smuggling activities, integrated intelligence operations have been stepped up via land and water patrols.
“Roadblocks are set up, the waters patrolled and ships, boats, sampan and fish cages (farms) inspected. JKDM has 122 speedboats for the job,” he said during a Bernama Radio interview today.
Najmi said regular meetings with agencies responsible for enforcing the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act (Atipsom), as well as intelligence sharing by agencies responsible for Op Benteng, help with combatting migrant smuggling, too.
He said 2019 - 2021 statistics show JKDM detained 13 boat skippers and 107 migrants from Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand.
Despite that, Malaysia was downgraded to Tier 3 in the 2021 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report by the US State Department for not complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and not making significant effort.
“As such, JKDM is committed to supporting government efforts to return to a better tier.
"Field officers are asked to look out for indicators of exploitation, especially forced labour among foreigners, during detention," Najmi said.
Meanwhile, he said, JKDM has identified a new method of cigarette smuggling not involving ports, but ungazetted landing sites.
He said the modus operandi of the smuggling of goods and migrants was almost the same, that is depending on the tide and using small boats.
Pejabat Strategik Nasional Majlis Antipemerdagangan Orang dan Antipengeludupan Migran (MAPO)
Kementerian Dalam Negeri
Aras 2, Blok D7, Kompleks D,
Pusat Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan