Fadli, Batam – Malaysian authorities have returned the remains of 11 people who died in a boat accident on Dec. 15 off the coast of Johor Bahru, Malaysia to the Indonesian counterpart in Batam, Riau Islands, on Thursday.
The National Police's bureau head of international mission Brig. Gen. Krishna Murti said Thursday that the remains, suspected to be of undocumented migrants traveling to Malaysia, would be identified at the Riau Islands Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Batam.
Following the identification process, the Agency for the Protection of Indonesian Migrant Workers (BP2MI) will return them to their hometowns, said BP2MI deputy Insp. Gen. Achmad Kartiko.
Achmad called on Indonesian migrant workers who are looking to work in Malaysia to be careful about people smugglers.
"If any citizens find brokers who offer to facilitate illegal passage to Malaysia, they should report [the brokers] to the authorities. Because crimes against Indonesian migrant workers are extraordinary crimes," said Achmad.
Achmad went on to say that there were 10 other victims whose remains were still in the custody of the Malaysian authorities, adding that they would be handed over to the Indonesian counterpart following the verification process.
Foreign Ministry official Yudhi Ardian said the ministry would continue to work with relevant stakeholders to prevent illegal crossings by undocumented Indonesian migrant workers.
On Dec. 15, a boat carrying around 60 Indonesians seeking to illegally enter Malaysia capsized because of stormy weather off the coast of Tanjung Balau, Johor Bahru, Malaysia. The vessel reportedly set off from Karimun Regency, Riau Islands.
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency evacuated the capsized boat and rescued 20 men and two women. The agency reported that at least 11 people, seven men and four women, had died while 27 people were still missing.
The accident is the latest in a string of disasters recorded in the waterways between Indonesia and Malaysia in recent years, often involving overloaded boats ferrying laborers seeking work in Malaysia, Reuters reported.
According to Jakarta-based rights group Migrant CARE, between 100,000 and 200,000 Indonesians travel illegally to Malaysia each year for work, many of them recruited by human traffickers.