PUTRAJAYA: Several immigration officers based at KLIA have been detained for allegedly aiding and abetting an organised smuggling syndicate of Bangladesh nationals through the airport, said Immigration director-general Datuk Seri Mustafar Ali.

Referring to an article in Malay daily Harian Metro, last week, Mustafar said the Immigration Department took immediate action by deploying a taskforce comprising of its officers from its Visa, Pass and Permit division, Integrity Division and Expatriate Division from its headquarters to Dhaka, Bangladesh to enhance the Standard Operating Procedure in the issuance of visa to visitors from the country.

"The taskforce visits are not a new matter as it is done from time to time.

"That said, the Department will not compromise with any officers that may have misused their powers or damaged their integrity irrespective of their position.

"I do not deny that there are a few immigration officers that may be involved in such corrupt activities but we will continue our efforts to ensure that the department including its staff are free from such vice," he told reporters after officiating the department's monthly meeting, here, today.

Mustafar, however, refused to reveal exactly how many officers were nabbed by the department, stating that having consulted Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun, the matter should not be disclosed as it is currently still under investigation.

"I have already discussed this with the IGP and he has expressed shock following this exposure as both the Immigration Department and the Royal Malaysian Police (PDRM) are working together to bust this syndicate," he said, adding that both departments were already aware of the matter prior to the exposé.

He also pledged to take severe action against the officers should any evidence leading to their involvement in the syndicate surface during investigations.

Mustafar said the officers are currently under detention at the Immigration Department headquarters, here.

In the meantime, Mustafar said the department will be introducing new measures to further secure the country's entry points as well as take consistent and stricter measures to track down the syndicate agents who are believed to have made use of the Immigration officers to smuggle in the Bangladesh nationals.

The detention of the Immigration officers comes after the Malay daily reported that thousands of Bangladesh citizens were being smuggled into the country by four syndicates.

The syndicates were being allegedly assisted by enforcement agencies from both countries, raking up to RM5.2 million a year in profits from the organised smuggling.

In another development, Mustafar said the department is fully prepared to manage the application of special permits for foreign maids through the online system without going through agents or middlemen within seven to 16 days.

He said the direct recruitment measures of foreign domestic helpers from resource countries would reduce the cost and burden of employers, with employers only having to pay around RM3,600 to RM3,800 as compared to payments to agents ranging from RM12,000 to RM18,000.

"The additional costs involves payment for levy, visitor's pass (temporary work), visas and processes determined by each country and flight costs.

"The online application system will be able to curb human trafficking and slavery from happening further," he said.

source : The Sun

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