26 Rohingya refugees who were believed to have drowned in the sea off Langkawi yesterday (27th July) were found hiding in the bushes and had entered the country illegally.
Kedah and Perlis Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) director First Admiral (Maritime) Mohd Zawawi Abdullah said the group consisted of 13 men, nine women and five children – four boys and one girl.
The rescue team found them hiding in Pulau Rebak Besar at 6.15pm during Operation CARILAMAT. This comes after authorities received a report that a Rohingya ‘survivor’ claimed that 24 of his compatriots might have drowned after they all allegedly jumped off a boat near the island, reported Astro Awani.
This is believed to be the Rohingya’s latest ‘strategy’ in trying to enter the country illegally. Some of their previous tactics included purposely causing leaks on their boats or damaging the engine when they were near the island.
“The search and rescue operation team failed to find any clues or victims. It then received a complaint from a local fisherman who found a Rohingya man on Pulau Rebak Besar. An MMEA boat was then dispatched to the location,” Mohd Zawawi said at a press conference.
“The migrant was taken to the Kedah and Perlis Malaysian Maritime Jetty in Bukit Malut for interrogation and he revealed that there were 26 more migrants still hiding on the island.”
“As a result, the MMEA boat and the Gagah maritime vessel, together with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), conducted a search and found the 26 migrants, who are aged between five and 45.”
The 27 migrants, including the complainant, were then taken to the Kedah and Perlis Malaysian Maritime Jetty in Bukit Malut for further investigation. They also went through Covid-19 screenings before they were handed over to the Immigration Department.
“We are still investigating how long they’ve been on the island and how they managed to trespass into the country’s waters,” Mohd Zawawi said.
“We also found that the Rohingya man nabbed had links to the two skippers (tekong darat or dallal) who were arrested in an operation involving five agencies on 21st July.”
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