Raids came only after illegals refused to be tested, says minister

Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob says the government was forced to carry out raids to round up illegal immigrants when they failed to come forward to be tested for Covid-19.

PUTRAJAYA: The government’s offer for undocumented migrants to get tested for Covid-19 “ended” when none stepped forward, said Senior Minister (Security) Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

At a press conference today, he said only after this offer ended did the Immigration Department carry out operations to detain those without documents and hold them at the various depots.

“We gave them permission to step forward for testing even though they had no travel documents.

“The government announced this from the start when we found there were undocumented migrants who tested positive in enhanced movement control order (EMCO) areas.

“So we made an offer for them to come out and get tested. I even announced this at a press conference. Even though they did not have documents, they could come out to do these tests but none came forward.”

He said the illegals detained in the ensuing operations were screened, with positive cases receiving treatment and those who tested negative being repatriated.

Putrajaya’s move to detain undocumented migrants as the country battles Covid-19 has come under criticism from human rights groups, concerned that these raids would force the migrants to go into hiding and hamper efforts to prevent the pandemic from spreading.

On CMCO enforcement, Ismail said 158 were detained yesterday for various CMCO offences, with 157 remanded and one person released on police bail.

Another 457 individuals were issued compound notices for CMCO offences at police stations and roadblocks.

Most of the compound notices issued for attempts to travel interstate came from Perak (42), Selangor (32), Penang (24) and Johor (24).

“There are still people trying to travel interstate. I hope members of the public will abide by the rules issued by the government.”

Ismail also said to date over 56,445 students from institutions of higher learning have returned to their families. Another 1,986 students are still on campus and will be sent home soon.

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