Friday, October 7, 2011
Fresh Smuggled Rohingya Boat People in Malaysia
PULAU: It was either sink or swim for more than 100 hungry Myanmar nationals who had to leave their boat 500m from the shore after 10 days at sea.
The group, believed to comprise as many as 115 men, jumped into the sea at around 3am yesterday, clutching their meagre belongings along with pails, broken life preservers and whatever floating devices that were available.
All were believed to have reached the shore at Pasir Panjang beach here except for five who could not make the full distance and had stopped at the tiny Betong Island about 300m offshore.
Their attempt at entering the country illegally, however, came to naught when local residents tipped off the police, who launched an operation to round them up.
Police caught 81 of them, including the five on the island, between 8am and 5pm yesterday but believed more could have escaped. The Myanmar were aged between 19 and 30.
Balik Pulau OCPD Supt Mohd Hatta Mohd Zain said the men were very weary after not having any food for three to five days.
“We gave them bread and mineral water but some were too weak to even break the seals of the water bottles.
“They are suspected to have come here to find jobs,” he said.
He added that police were confident that all the illegal immigrants had made it to shore.
Supt Mohd Hatta also said marine police detained a large fishing boat some 28 to 30 nautical miles from shore with 14 more Myanmar nationals on board.
The larger boat is believed to have brought in the illegals but its captain did not want to bring the vessel ashore.
Supt Mohd Hatta said police also detained two Myanmar nationals who were working in the country and held United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees cards.
He said they were allegedly waiting for their relatives on the shore.
Many of the illegals broke into tears at the district police headquarters here when packets of rice were handed out around noon.
Anowar Hossain, 23, who was living in a refugee camp in Bangladesh prior to making the trip here, said he paid 10,000 Bangladeshi Taka (RM405) to a man who promised to bring him to Malaysia.
“Conditions were very difficult at the refugee camp so we tried to come to Malaysia. We had food for seven days on the boat but after that we ran out,” said Anowar.
Some 50 police and Rela personnel along with two canine units were involved in the operation to catch the illegals.
Source: The Star