PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Packed to the brim, rickety vessels called tongkang ferry thousands of illegals home to Indonesia every time Ramadan and Aidilfitri approach.
The authorities are watching, so the operators take routes that are not guarded - and certainly not safe. Then, it becomes a game of death, with the passengers literally caught between the enforcers and the deep blue sea.
Within several hours, 13 have died and 29 are missing and feared dead, too. Another 82 survived and are now detained or being treated at hospitals.
Yet the victims pay a handsome price for the dangerous trip. Fares range from RM640 to RM960 and on some occasions RM1,600. Even with that kind of money, passengers get no life jackets and other safety equipment.
The syndicates operating the boats are known to pack them well beyond safety limits while the boat captains stay away from the safe routes to avoid detection.