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Be wary of 25,000 African ‘students’

by Nancy Lai. Posted on December 11, 2011, Sunday

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are advised to be wary when dealing with African ‘students’ who are in the state and in the country.

“The best is to totally avoid them,” advised Senator Datuk Paul Kong Sing Chu, adding that there are more than 25,000 Africans in the country and many of them have been caught committing serious crimes such as drug trafficking, robbery, murder and ‘black money’.

Kong said that during the Dewan Negara sitting last week, when he asked the Home Minister what had been done to deny entry to foreign students especially from African countries who came on the pretext of pursuing studies but were instead involved in drug trafficking, fraud and sexual crimes, among others.

The Deputy Home Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong, in his reply, stressed that the Home Ministry is serious about controlling the presence of Africans in the country and also in combating the criminal activities of these people.

Among steps taken by the police and Immigration Departments are to carry out continuous integrated operations with the local authorities, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Higher Education and the Ministry Human Resource to identify, arrest, charge and deport any African citizen who has violated Malaysian laws, Lee said.

Those who are found to have violated Article 39(b) of the Immigration Rule 1963, which is misuse of their passes, will be blacklisted and deported to their countries of origin.

“In this respect, the Immigration Department, from January to October this year arrested 764 Africans, he said adding that the department also compounded 1,107 Africans and deported 146 to their countries of origin.

“The managements of private institutes of higher learning, private educational institutions and authorised centres are also responsible to report to the Ministry of Higher Education and the Education Ministry as well as to the Skills Development department as the monitoring agency, all changes involving the status of international students under their jurisdiction, from the latters’ place of study, residence, courses, academic achievement and attendance,” he said.

According to Lee, any international student who recorded an attendance of less than 80 per cent must be reported to the Immigration Department from time to time as part of the monitoring and enforcement processes on African students.

The Ministry has also set up a sub-unit on student passes  involving the Home Ministry, the Ministry of Higher Education, the Ministry of Education, the Skills Development department, the police and Immigration departments to address issues relating to international students as well as to review the intake procedure and student management in order for the unit to be more effective in the screening of the so-called students.

Lee also disclosed that statistics from the Immigration Department showed that a total of 72,892 Africans have entered and left the country from January to October this year.

The department had also issued a total of 23,536 student passes to Africans to pursue their studies at public and private institutions of higher learning and international schools in Malaysia.

“It cannot be denied that some Africans in the country were involved in criminal activities especially in drug dealing and commercial crimes.  A total of 20 criminal cases were recorded in 2009 comprising 15 cases involving crimes against the property and five cases involving criminal force.

“In the criminal force category, there was one rape case, two unarmed gang robbery cases and two for causing injury while under the property crime category, there were 12 cases of theft as well as three house breaking and burglary cases,” Lee disclosed.

According to him in 2010, the police recorded 12 cases under the criminal force category which included two rape cases, two cases of causing injury, seven cases of unarmed gang robbery and one case of armed gang robbery.

In the property crime category, there were nine cases of theft, one case of car theft and six housebreaking and burglary cases, he said adding, from January to July this year, nine cases have been recorded and these were also in the property crime and criminal force categories.

There were two rape cases and two unarmed gang robbery cases, he said and disclosed that under property crime, there were four cases of theft and one house breaking and burglary cases each.

Responding to Kong’s second question on cases involving Iranian drug traffickers posing as tourists entering into Malaysia, Lee replied that a total of 101,644 Iranians were recorded to have entered the country in 2009 and the figure rose to 108,047.

Their arrivals as tourists augurs well for the country’s tourism sector, however the Immigration Department is constantly monitoring their movements in and out of the country, he assured.

The police, he said, will ensure that foreigners who have committed offences under the Dangerous Drugs Act 1952 will face stiff penalties.

In relation to Malaysians being detained overseas for drug offences as well as charged for being ‘drug mules’, police records indicated that in 2009 there were 56 Malaysians arrested in foreign countries.

In 2010 the figure was 48 Malaysians, and as of October this year, 45 Malaysians including 16 women were arrested overseas for drug offences.

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