JOHOR BARU: The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) detected more than 1,000 suspicious activities at sea through the Malaysian Maritime Sea Surveillance System (SWASLA) radar since the agency started “Ops Benteng” in May last year.

MMEA director-general Maritime Admiral Datuk Mohd Zubil Mat Som (pic) said that although the National Task Force has conducted strict surveillance on the country’s maritime areas, there were still human trafficking syndicates that attempted to intrude on our borders.

“From May 2020 until today, there were attempts made by human traffickers to infiltrate our border almost every night, but through our SWASLA radar, we managed to detect 1,110 suspicious activities throughout our maritime areas and forced 689 of them to get out from under our watch.

“What is even sadder is the selfishness of these traffickers to gain financial income without even a second thought about the safety of the people that they ferry,” he said in a statement here on Friday (Dec 17).

He added that even the enforcement agencies are taking extra safety precautions when conducting surveillance during the monsoon season.

Zubil said this in response to the boat tragedy in Tanjung Balau, Kota Tinggi, where 19 people drowned while 17 others were still missing.

He added that such tragedies could have been avoided if immigrants had stopped working together with human trafficking syndicates and entered the country through the legal routes.

He also said that sailing through the current weather conditions would be suicide as the wind speeds can go up to 50km/h while the waves can go up as high as 5m.

“We hope that this tragedy will be a lesson to the syndicates to stop their activities.

“MMEA will continue to strengthen our border surveillance, especially in the eastern waters of Johor, which have been the main route for illegal immigrants to enter the country,” Zubil said.

He also said that the MMEA will be working together with the Indonesian authorities to share any information on human trafficking and illegal activities.

“We want to eradicate this problem,” he said, adding that those involved will be charged under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.

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