JOHOR BARU - A nationwide search has been launched for more than a dozen foreign nationals who have gone into hiding since arriving in the country several weeks ago.
The foreigners, in their 20s and 50s, including women and children, are believed to be from Middle-East countries and Libya.
All border checkpoints have been alerted.
Police sources said the case came to light after the Johor Immigration Department arrested two officers involved in corrupt practices at the Bangunan Sultan Iskandar Customs, Immigration and Quarantine complex several days ago.
"We are not sure if the foreigners are a threat to national security or using Malaysia to migrate to a third country," the sources said, adding that investigations showed that the foreigners arrived through KL International Airport early this year.
However, suspicion arose with the detention of the two immigration officers, in their 20s and 30s, after they tried to extend the stay of the foreigners in Malaysia by entering their details into the immigration database.
The duo have been freed on bail.
It is learnt that the foreigners could have obtained fake Singapore entry stamps on their passports to show that they had left Malaysia and entered Singapore because Malaysia only grants two-week visas to those coming from these countries.
"They could have had their visas extended with fake Singapore immigration stamps to show that they left the country and entered Malaysia again through the CIQ, which would entitle them for another two-week stay," the sources said, adding that two police reports had been lodged.
"We are investigating whether other immigration personnel were involved in such activities."
Johor Immigration director Rohaizi Bahari confirmed that two personnel had been detained for investigations, but could not reveal details because investigations were still ongoing.