Bringing foreigners in illegally amid Covid-19 akin to betraying country, Home Minister says

Ben Tan
Home Minister Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin (3rd left) during his visit to the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar building that houses the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facility in Johor Baru April 7, 2020. — Picture by Ben Tan

JOHOR BARU, April 7 — Malaysians who conspire to illegally bring foreign nationals into the country will face stiffer action following the government’s tightening of entry points nationwide in light of the Covid-19 pandemic, Datuk Seri Hamzah Zainudin warned today.

The home minister said the government will not compromise on such acts, which he said is akin to betraying one’s country,

“Today I want to warn those that illegally bring foreigners into our country through land and sea routes that the authorities are tracking them and they will not hesitate to impose heavier penalties against them.

“Personally, I think such people are the enemies of the country for allowing foreign nationals to enter illegally without proper documents,” said Hamzah.

He said this during a press conference at the Johor police contingent headquarters here today after earlier visiting the Sultan Iskandar Building that houses the customs, immigration and quarantine (CIQ) facility before entering Singapore via the Johor Causeway.

Also present was Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.

Hamzah said the Home Ministry, together with all the relevant agencies including the police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Immigration Department will work with the Armed Forces to identify and tighten infamous “ratlines” in Johor.

He said this is to ensure that no foreigners enter the country without first being checked and screened for the Covid-19 virus that is plaguing the country.

When asked whether the government had identified the “ratlines” nationwide, Hamzah said the matter is an ongoing effort and has been done from time to time.

“The ‘rat routes’ are always changing. We are constantly looking for new and existing pathways in curbing the illegal entry of foreigners.

“At the same time, we will also work with all national security agencies, including the Armed Forces as well as partake in intelligence gathering to prevent foreigners from illegally entering,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hamzah said agencies under the Home Ministry will also raid illegal settlements by foreigners in the country to ensure they are free of the Covid-19 outbreak.

He said this was part of tightening controls in an effort against the Covid-19 outbreak.

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