PETALING JAYA: Syndicates are using counterfeiting networks in the country to smuggle people into Australia, taking advantage of the visa agreement between the two nations, an Australian news outlet reported.
According to ABC News, Malaysian passport holders enjoy an easier passage to Australia compared to those from other countries and this has led to people smugglers helping nationals of other countries assume fake Malaysian identities so they can enter Australia easily.
About 10,500 people from Malaysia are in Australia unlawfully, ABC News notes, adding the sum was “significantly more than any other country”.
According to the report, citizens from Asean countries would travel to Malaysia without a visa where they would fraudulently obtain a Malaysian passport for as little as RM3,849.
Citizens from Asean countries including Vietnam, Indonesia and the Philippines come under far more scrutiny when applying to travel to Australia compared to those from Malaysia.
ABC News quoted former Australian Border Force (ABF) Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg as saying that the combination of an easy passage into Malaysia and an easy way to obtain false identification makes Malaysia “the perfect staging ground for people smugglers”.
ABC News said Malaysia’s rise as a source country for people who are illegally in Australia “has accelerated in recent years”.
“It is believed the number of Malaysian unlawful non-citizens has almost doubled since 2015. The ABF said the total number of overstayers has remained ‘relatively static’ at about 63,000,” the report said.
The report also hinted that part of the problem was that Malaysia was one of only eight countries whose citizens could apply for an Electronic Travel Authority (ETA) visa online.
This visa, the report noted, can be granted in a matter of hours.
ABC News goes on to quote Christine Dacey, a first assistant secretary at the department of home affairs, as saying that the ETAs were “probably the lightest touch visa that we offer”.
“Malaysia is one of the countries that has access to it. I think it would be fair to say that we have identified… that there is an issue there,” she is quoted as saying.
The report also quoted an Australian home affairs insider, who said the authorities were working closely with Putrajaya to prevent people using fraudulently obtained passports to enter Australia.
This includes employing airline liaison officers in Malaysia to monitor flights to Australia.