Undocumented migrants foiled in attempts to depart for Malaysia
The Jakarta Post
The Agency for the Placement and Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BNP2TKI) has foiled the attempts of 669 migrant workers from departing to Malaysia without the proper documentation.
The workers were attempting to depart from Batam and Tanjung Pinang, Riau Islands.
Speaking to The Jakarta Post in Batam on Saturday, BNP2TKI head Gatot Abdullah Mansyur said that together with the Immigration Office, his agency had screened Indonesians leaving for Malaysia from the Batam international ferry terminal for four days starting from Aug. 27.
Gatot said if they found indications that a person was to work in Malaysia without the required documents, such as a job order and a temporary residence permit, the person would be prevented from traveling.
'According to the regulations, we cannot ban citizens from going to Malaysia. Yet, we know whether they are going for an ordinary visit or for work. We arrest those who are going there for work [without the required documents],' he said.
He said the 669 workers arrested hailed from across Indonesia.
He added that they made Batam and Tanjung Pinang their points of departure.
'The biggest challenge we face in preventing illegal migrant workers from going to Malaysia is the fact they do not need a visa to go there,' he said, adding that the measure was conducted to make illegal workers complete their documents properly before leaving.
According to Gatot, the visa-free policy has been a concern for the State Palace and the Foreign Ministry, which are attempting to review the policy to prevent undocumented migrants from going to Malaysia.
'The upcoming ASEAN Community that will implement borderless, united currency principles, will see an increase in the migration of illegal workers,' Gatot said.
Things became more complex, he said, as in many cases illegal workers were sent from Malaysia to work in the Middle East.
Batam Center Immigration Office head Irwanto Suhaili, said departures to Malaysia through the ferry terminal that served the Stulang Laut, Johor Bahru, route were high, with ferries departing every hour.
'An average of 500 Indonesians depart to Johor every day, mostly for work in Malaysia,' Irwanto said.
Batam international ferry terminal is well known as a departure point for undocumented Indonesian migrants heading to Malaysia, both individually and through labor recruitment agencies (PJTKI).
Illegal workers can reportedly even buy one-way tickets on board the ferry. They usually board after all legal passengers. They also pay less money than legal passengers.
The situation has reportedly been allowed to develop by staff accepting illegal levies from undocumented passengers.
'So far we have found no staff involved in such a practice. If we find them, we will report them to their superiors in Jakarta,' Gatot said.
Based on the Post's observations at Stulang Laut Port, Johor Bahru, Indonesian undocumented migrants are also being financially exploited by staff, who seek to increase illegal levies for undocumented migrants at every opportunity.
In many cases, the staff even check the workers' cell phones to see if there are porn videos on the phones.
In the event they find such videos, they demand that the workers pay 100 Malaysian Ringgit.
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