KUALA LUMPUR - A total 139 illegal immigrants were detained while trying to leave the country in three separate incidents.
In Ipoh, an attempt by 51 illegal immigrants from Indonesia to flee the country failed when the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) found them stranded on a faulty boat about 6.2 nautical miles west of Pangkor Island.
Lumut District 3 MMEA enforcement chief Kapt Abdul Razak Johan said the 34 men, 14 women and three children - including a two-month-old girl - were discovered by the officials at about 6pm on Thursday.
He said officers onboard KM Tugau and Bot Kilat 10 from the district enforcement unit spotted the fishing boat without any registration number.
It is believed that the 51 people were being smuggled out of the country since Dec 28 via the Klang route heading to Tanjung Balai Medan in Indonesia.
The illegals had been on the boat for five days after the vessel developed engine problems.
When officials found them, they were weak from hunger and the bad weather they had to endure throughout the journey, he said.
Abdul Razak added that all of them were transferred to the maritime boat, where food, drinks and medication were provided.
He said the illegals were then taken to the Kampung Acheh Customs jetty near Lumut, with the fishing boat also towed there.
The case is being investigated under Section 5 (1) of the Immigration Act for leaving Malaysia through an ungazetted port.
In George Town, marine police foiled an attempt by 42 illegal immigrants from Indonesia, including a two-year-old boy, to leave the country near Weld Quay.
Most of the immigrants, aged between 20 and 40, were found hiding in a heavily-cramped barter trade boat during an operation, codenamed Ops Tengo Papa, yesterday.
Region One head of intelligence/operation Deputy Supt Rosli Sufian said the Indonesian immigrants were about to leave the country via a prohibited route.
"Twenty five of them did not have valid documents. The boat was built to ferry goods and not passengers.
"The captain placed many lives at risk by ferrying so many passengers on board a small vessel," he added.
He said initial investigations showed the illegals paid between RM500 and RM600 each for the trip back to Aceh.
In Kota Tinggi, 46 Indonesians were arrested by marine police in an ambush at Pantai Batu Layar, Sungai Rengit, while waiting for their boat to leave the country illegally.
Region II Commander Asst Comm Zainul Abidin Hassan said they were nabbed at around 5.30am yesterday under its Ops Cantas Khas (Waters) following a tip-off.
He said the illegal immigrants were 13 women and 33 males, aged between 18 and 62, and initial investigations showed 41 of them did not have valid travel documents.
ACP Zainul Abidin said anyone with information on human trafficking could call the police hotline at 07-237 2222 or 07-237 6122.