Apriza Pinandita, Jakarta – Malaysian authorities are set to deport around 4,800 undocumented Indonesian migrant workers being detained at several immigration custody centers, a local high-ranking official has said.
"The Malaysian Immigration Department and the Foreign Ministry coordinated with the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur [on May 28] about the deportation," Malaysian Defense Minister Ismail Sabri Yakoob said in a live telecast from Kuala Lumpur on Saturday as quoted by antaranews.com.
The migrant workers will first undergo rapid test testing for COVID-19 before returning to Indonesia. The Indonesian Embassy will be invited to attend the testing, Ismail added.
"The first phase [of the deportation] will start on June 6 for some 2,189 undocumented Indonesian migrants that are now still in custody in the detention centers at the Malaysian peninsula and Sarawak region, with 672 more who are still in detention centers in Sabah region," he said.
The first group, comprising 450 deportees, will return home on June 6 on three flights to Jakarta, Medan in North Sumatra, and Surabaya in East Java, and 445 others will return home on June 10 via the same routes.
Of the 4,800 workers, 1,294 will travel by ship to Medan later this month.
"The [Indonesian] embassy will be allowed to make consular visits [to the immigration depots] to complete the administration needs of deportees who do not have travel documents," Ismail said.
Kuala Lumpur, he went on, appreciated the cooperation that had been shown by Jakarta regarding the handling of Indonesian migrant workers in Malaysia.
When asked about the issue, Foreign Ministry spokesman Teuku Faizasyah confirmed to The Jakarta Post on Monday that it was regular deportation conducted by the Malaysian authorities. He explained that it was not a coordinated repatriation, like what had been carried out by the government to facilitate Indonesians abroad who wanted to return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
"However, it still needs to be coordinated, in terms of how to ensure the deportation follows a standardized health protocol. In addition, we must also ensure the readiness of the entry points at home," he said.