By : V. Shankar Ganesh, Evangeline Majawat and Jassmine Shadiqe
PORT KLANG: The drowning incident off Pengerang in Johor and the arrest of 33 foreigners off Port Klang have confirmed suspicions that Malaysia is a transit point for human trafficking syndicates.
On Tuesday, nine bodies, eight of them Pakistanis, were found floating in the South China Sea off Pengerang.
On Sunday, marine authorities nabbed 33 foreigners from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq on a boat off Kuala Langat, some 30km from here.
In both incidents, the foreigners had luggage with them and most were carrying huge amounts of money.
Police recovered US$8,800 (RM31,620) from the body of a Pakistani woman who had drowned off Pengerang.
Malaysian authorities are probing if both incidents are linked as intelligence reports indicated that the foreigners were on their way to Indonesia before continuing their journey to Australia where they hoped seek asylum.
Last week, Australia’s national security adviser led a delegation to Kuala Lumpur seeking the help of their counterparts to intercept these boats before they reached the continent.
On Sunday, Selangor marine police intercepted a boat off Kuala Langat and detained 16 Afghans, 14 Pakistanis and three Iraqis. The Afghans comprised five families with children as young as 2 years old. Initial investigations revealed that the 33 foreigners were on their way to Australia and had big travelling bags with them.
The 44-year-old Indonesian boatman was taking the foreigners to Tanjung Balai in Sumatra.
The Pakistanis were from the border regions with Afghanistan while the Iraqis were Kurds from the north of Iraq.
All had valid passports except for one Iraqi. One of the Afghans also had a United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees card with him.
The Afghans and Pakistanis had obtained their visas from the Malaysian embassy in Pakistan.
The foreigners had entered the country through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport about two weeks ago and were attempting to leave by illegal means.
They waded through muddy waters to get to the boat in Sungai Langat before they sailed to the open sea, where they were nabbed at 3.40am on Sunday.
The group allegedly paid US$1,000 per person to the syndicate for the trip to Indonesia.
Selangor marine police chief Deputy Superintendent Marzuki Ismail said the foreigners were nabbed after a tip-off from a passing boat.
They have been handed over to the district police for further investigations.
It was reported that human traffickers promised their victims better lives in Australia and Western countries for a fee. The victims are usually picked from war-torn countries like Afghanistan, Myanmar and Iraq.
Recently, there has been a large number of refugees from Pakistan.
They are given valid passports from their countries. They are then taken to Malaysian embassies or consulates where they will apply for tourist visas to enter the country.
They will arrive in Malaysia through normal entry points.
Once here, arrangements are made to get them to Indonesia illegally through fishing or barter trade boats.
From Indonesia, they will be “loaded” into another boat for Australia.
Source: NST – 30 April 2009
The international trafficking syndicate out there is well organised and well administered. They use latest equipments – sometimes much better than the one used by the government. Their PR is superb and their info-gathering and intelligence team is at par with Italian Mafia, no doubt.
It is not easy to identify an Afghan with a Pakistani or an Iranian or Uzbek. But if you had known them, their styles, their languages and thinking – it is easy to group them. A refugee might be speaking fluently in Parsi, but if you know Parsi you may differentiate it with Dari (spoken in Afghanistan). Knowing Urdu will easily assist you in knowing whether a refugee is a Pakistani or Afghan origin. Knowledge in Pashtu will identify whether the refugee is from Balochi-Quetta area or Peshawar-Ningarhar border. The gestures and tonne will allow you to guess who they are and they cannot run from that.
Once you know how to identify a Pakistani, it will be easy to identify others – Nepalese, Rohingyas, Bangladeshi and Indian.
Shahrul Peshawar – after all, we are all in the same big family