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Malaysia border authorities on alert for illegal Rohingya crossings

Border authorities in the nor­thern states are on the alert for any crossings by Rohingya fleeing Myanmar in the wake of that country’s general election.

Thousands of Rohingya, a Muslim minority, have already fled because they are not recognised as citizens and are being persecuted in the majority Buddhist country.

If violence were to break out during the polls or after, more of them could decide to run away. But so far, the situation there is calm, according to news reports.

Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) northern region enforcement chief First Admiral Tan Kok Kwee said “surveillance of the Langkawi archipelago and surrounding areas” had been stepped up just in case.

Patrols were being conducted by MMEA and Malaysian Navy vessels, he added.

Kedah Immigration Department director Yusri Hashim said his men had also been placed on alert.

“But there have been no illegal crossings since May,” he said.

On May 10, more than 1,000 Rohingya, including women and children, landed illegally on Langkawi after being forced to swim to shore from their boats by human traffic­kers.

It was reported that they were abandoned in Malaysian waters after Thai authorities launched a major crackdown on human trafficking syndicates.

A special operation by Malaysian authorities in areas bordering Thailand from May 11 to 23 revealed abandoned campsites used by human traffickers as they smuggled Rohingya into Malaysia.

Police discovered 139 graves, containing the skeletal remains of 106 people, scattered around 28 such transit camps in Wang Kelian, Perlis.

The General Operations Force continues to patrol the jungle areas along the Malaysia-Thailand border and maintain roadblocks on major roads there.

It was learned that a police helicopter also regularly patrolled Wang Kelian and nearby areas.

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