Kuala Selangor River, Selangor, Malaysia. Photo: Google Maps

Sixteen Myanmar Rohingya and four Indonesians allegedly attempting to enter Malaysia illegally were arrested in waters off Kuala Selangor, on the country’s west coast, during the early hours of Monday, while three Indonesian men believed to be members of a human-trafficking syndicate in their country were also detained for further investigation.

At 2:30am on Monday, officers from the Bukit Aman Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Smugglers (D7C) Division and the Selangor Marine Police intercepted a suspicious vessel that was heading toward the estuary of the Kuala Selangor River, the China Press reported.

A total of 20 illegal migrants were found on board, of whom 16 were Myanmar Rohingya – nine men, a four-year-old child and six women. The rest were Indonesians, three men and one woman.

The illegal migrants allegedly got on board in Medan, Sumatra, and traveled for two days and two nights before arriving in waters off Kuala Selangor.

Preliminary investigations suggested that the Rohingya, who had previously lived in a camp run by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in Aceh, fled from the camp because there was no work available for them.

Each of the Indonesians paid the syndicate 1 million rupiah (US$71) while the Rohingya were reportedly charged triple that amount per head.

All of the suspects and migrants were detained for further investigations under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Migrant Anti- Smuggling Act of 2007, Section 6 (1) (c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63, and Section 5 (2) of the same act.

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