Thursday, February 03, 2005

Najib Says No Extension To Amnesty Deadline For Illegals

PUTRAJAYA, Feb 2 (Bernama) -- Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Wednesday that the Jan 31 amnesty deadline for illegal immigrants to leave the country has not been extended.

However, he said, the government will adopt a "soft" approach in the short term to persuade illegal immigrants still in the country to leave on their own.

The decision was taken since most illegal immigrants were Indonesians and Malaysia sympathised with their country which faced internal pressures in facing the aftermath of the Dec 26 earthquake and tsunami that devastated large regions in Sumatra and killed more than 200,000 people there, he told a media conference after accepting donations for the International Tsunami Fund at his office here.

The amnesty was introduced on Oct 29 for 17 days prior to Aidilfitri but, following an appeal from Indonesia, it was extended to Dec 31 and again to Jan 31 after the earthquake and tsunami disaster.

Najib said the government would make an announcement soon on launching action against illegal immigrants who remained stubborn and refused to heed the call to leave for their home countries.

Earlier Wednesday, Home Affairs Minister Datuk Azmi Khalid said the authorities would continue their operation against illegal immigrants and those caught would be advised to leave quickly after their personal particulars were recorded and their fingerprints taken.

He said he expected them to take a week to leave and if they were caught again after that, they would be fingerprinted a second time and deported.

More than 400,000 illegal immigrants had taken up the amnesty offer and left the country.

Said Najib: "The government has decided not to extend the amnesty again but we feel it is proper at this stage, in the short-term, to use all our machinery to persuade them to go back to their home country.

"So when the government announces actions to be taken under the law I hope no one will accuse us of not giving them sufficient time."

Asked on the statement made by Azmi, he said: "The amnesty has expired (but) at this moment, we are not enforcing the full force of the law against them yet. We are going on the basis of persuading them to go back. And this phase will not continue for long.

"Indonesia, our neighbour, is in great difficulty. I think it is only right to show sympathetic consideration to their plight.

"(It) does not mean that we are wavering. It is just making a slight adjustment."

Najib earlier received cash contributions amounting to RM215,709.22 for the tsunami fund from the Political Secretaries Club, Malaysian Hoteliers Association, Police Cooperative (Malaysia) Berhad and Dr A.C. Ng Academy Sdn Bhd.

Everhome Holdings (M) Bhd donated 150 beds worth RM30,000 while Hewlett-Packard Sdn Bhd gave 10 personal computers.



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