by AZALEA AZUAR / pic by AFP
A TOTAL of 382 Rohingya detainees out of 528 who escaped from the Sungai Bakap’s temporary immigration depot in Penang yesterday morning have been re-arrested.
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainuddin said all of the detainees who escaped were Rohingya refugees who have been relocated from the Wawasan Langkawi camp after being arrested for illegally entering the national waters and violating the Immigration Act in 2020.
“I have instructed the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) and the Immigration Department Malaysia (JIM) to conduct a detailed investigation into their actions,” said Hamzah in a statement yesterday.
“In this regard, I want to stress that Malaysia does not recognise the refugees’ status and they are allowed here only on the humanitarian basis.
“Therefore, I would like to remind all parties including foreigners who are in Malaysia to comply with the laws of this country,” he said, adding that there will be no compromise against those who break the laws.
Hamzah has also ordered all the enforcement agencies under the Home Ministry to conduct a joint effort in tracking down those who are on the run.
As of 10am yesterday, Immigration DG Datuk Seri Khairul Dzaimee Daud said a total of 362 Rohingya detainees were re-arrested.
“The search for the remaining detainees is continuing,” Khairul Dzaimee said in a statement yesterday.
According to him, the detainees fled after breaking the blocked door and grilled barrier, and the officers on duty have activated the standard operating procedures by contacting the PDRM and relevant agencies to assist their search.
“The search and arrest operation for the escaped detainees is being carried out with the cooperation of PDRM, the People’s Volunteer Corps and the public,” Khairul Dzaimee added.
He advised those who have information of the escaped detainees’ whereabouts should inform JIM or PDRM.
Meanwhile, Kedah police have launched operations dubbed “Op Kesan” to track down the remaining 171 Rohingya detainees who are still on the run after escaping from the depot.
Kedah police chief Wan Hassan Wan Ahmad said the 171 detainees comprised 131 men, 28 women and 12 boys.
According to Wan Hassan, the police are also launching “Op Tutup” which will see 13 roadblocks to be mounted, with four roadblocks in Seberang Perai Selatan, four in Bandar Baharu and five in Kulim.
“We believe they are still in the nearby areas and they will be captured soon,” he said, adding that the case was being investigated under Section 223/224 and Section 147 of the Penal Code.
Earlier, six of these detainees have died on the spot after being hit by vehicles while crossing the North-South Expressway (southbound) near Jawi yesterday.
Penang police chief Datuk Mohd Shuhaily Mohd Zain said those that have been killed included two men, two women, a boy and a girl, and the operations to search for them have been launched immediately after they received the police report.
They are also currently looking out for the rest who include children and senior citizens which are believed to still be in Penang.
In a separate Bernama report, Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Saarani Mohamad said the security and system of the Langkap Immigration Detention Depot will be tightened as a precautionary measure.
He said it needs to be carried out to ensure such incident did not recur or that the escapees may enter the state.
“Even though the matter is not under the purview of the state government, it is hoped the parties concerned would take the necessary measures as what had happened in Kedah may happen in our state.
“As we are aware, they (Rohingya refugees) are very creative in finding ways to escape. The authorities should be careful and cannot afford to be complacent after the incident.
“The detainees are aware of the schedule of depot officers for their plans,” he said.