Putrajaya will study Canberra’s request to tighten immigration controls and issuance of visas to prevent human trafficking and the problem of boat people, after 260 Sri Lankans recently pushed off for Australia from Malaysia but were now being held in Indonesia.
Prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said his Australian counterpart Kevin Rudd made the request during their bilateral meeting after the inauguration of Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yodhoyono here. Rudd also made the same request to Indonesia and Singapore.
“The meeting was convened upon Rudd’s request. He also expressed his satisfaction with the good bilateral ties between our two countries,” Najib said at a press conference with the Malaysian media.
Specifically, Najib said, Rudd had raised several issues including Australia’s concern about the problem of boat people, who were using Malaysia their transit point before making their way illegally into Australia.
A recent example, he said, was concerning a group of Sri Lankan boat people who entered Malaysia on their way to Australia, but ended being detained by the Indonesian authorities.
The Sri Lankans have threatened to burn their boat to prevent further detention. Indonesian navy have detained several Indonesian crewmen from the boat and a few Sri Lankans identified as people smugglers by the Australians.
Najib said among the preventive measures that could be considered by Malaysia were an increase in the number of immigration officers at certain countries, who would scrutinise visa applications to Malaysia, so that tourism and human trafficking activities could be clearly ascertained.
The prime minister said it was learnt that the human trafficking activities had become rampant because of the handsome profit, as the traffickers would charge between $15,000 and $20,000 (RM51,000 to RM68,000) for each Sri Lankan who wanted to enter Australia.
“This is also linked to Sri Lanka’s internal stability. If the Sri Lankan government can assure that the Tamils there can integrate in the country’s development, the possibility of them becoming boat people will be reduced,” he said.