The fate of hundreds of illegal Indonesian migrant workers remains uncertain after a plan to return them to Nunukan district in North Kalimantan was canceled due to the Malaysian government’s new deportation policy.
Malaysia has increased the fees required to deport illegal migrant workers at Tawau Port in Negeri Sabah.
The authorities have detained hundreds of illegal workers in massive operations conducted by police and immigration officials.
Hadi Syarifudin, chief of the citizen protection task force at the Indonesian Consulate General in Kota Kinabalu, said in a short text message that the new policy has seen the cancelation of the deportation of 500 Indonesian workers.
“This new policy is related to the privatization of Tawau Port, which requires the deported workers having to pay for tickets at the same price paid by regular passengers heading to Nunukan district,” Hadi said.
The first deportation of 2017 was planned for Tuesday (24/01), which would have seen 204 people being repatriated after they were detained at Air Panas Tawau.
Due to the policy changes, about 300 illegal workers being held at the Kemanis Papar and Menggatal detention centers in Kota Kinabalu will no longer be returning home on Thursday.
The new management of Tawau Port also raised the boat ticket prices, as it now includes other costs, which will make it more difficult for the Indonesian workers to enter or leaving the country.
However, Hadi said the Sabah administration has denied knowledge of the new policy – especially regarding the ticket prices for deported Indonesian workers.