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Malaysia kicks off operation to flush out illegal immigrants

A massive operation to flush out hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants has kicked off across major cities in Malaysia. More than 1,500 illegal workers have already been detained.

KUALA LUMPUR: A massive operation to flush out hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants has kicked off across major cities in Malaysia.

Some 10,000 enforcement personnel from the police, civil defence force and immigration department are joining forces in the nationwide crackdown.

More than 1,500 illegal workers have already been detained.

It was a rude awakening over 1,000 immigrants living in a densely populated area of Chow Kit near Kuala Lumpur's city centre, as enforcement officials raided homes in a massive operation code named Ops Sepadu aimed at flushing out illegal immigrants.

Those without legal documents, including women and children, were rounded up.

Some were in tears as they were taken away to detention centres to await deportation.

The government said ample opportunity had been provided for employers to legalise their workers in the past months.

Those who failed to do so will now face the full force of the law.

Malaysia’s Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said: "We will continue the exercise because if we were to stop, they will return. Malaysia is still an attractive place for foreigners to seek employment but we want them to enter the country legally."

There are 15 detention centres nationwide. To avoid overcrowding as well as to cut costs, the authorities want the illegal immigrants detained to be deported within a week but before that, their fingerprints will be taken down to prevent them from re-entering the country under a different name or using a different passport .

The ongoing operation has stoked fears among the estimated four million foreign worker community in Malaysia

Mostly from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Myanmar, India and Nepal, they came here to eke out a living because of the economic hardship back home.

Regardless with or without a permit, many workers will be living in fear for some time to come. 

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