PUTRAJAYA: Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob today said the 202 people, believed to be Rohingya, who arrived by boat in Langkawi yesterday will be quarantined there.
“Because they are already in our waters, it becomes our responsibility to take care of their interests. They will be quarantined in Langkawi,” he told a press conference here this afternoon.
Ismail said the foreign affairs ministry, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the Immigration Department had been tasked to help them.
Yesterday, the 202, including 45 women and five children, were taken to a detention centre after they arrived by boat on the beach outside a luxury hotel in Langkawi.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency said they told local officials that four men who had apparently smuggled them out to sea had later absconded during the journey into Malaysian waters.
Commenting on reports that there will be an influx of Malaysian workers from Singapore wishing to return home following the announcement of a one-month lockdown there from tomorrow, Ismail said even though tens of thousands were expected, only three had crossed over to Malaysia thus far.
He said the standing instruction was that Malaysians cannot return home until they have been tested negative for Covid-19.
“This is our initial agreement with Singapore,” he said.
“Before they return home, they must go for a screening. They must produce a letter which states they are negative of Covid-19.”
However, he said there were some slight changes to the agreement that was being negotiated by a working committee consisting of officials from the foreign affairs and human resources ministries of both countries, among others.
The Johor government was also involved in the negotiation, he said.
He believed the Malaysian foreign affairs ministry would make an announcement on the new criteria at a meeting tomorrow morning.
“So far, we still do not allow our citizens to enter the country until negotiations between the two countries have been completed,” he said.
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