MELBOURNE: Australia is singing the praises of the Malaysian police.
The professionalism of the force is now the toast of the Australian authorities after it routed a major people-smuggling ring which targeted Australia-bound Afghan asylum-seekers.
The Perth-based West Australian newspaper said seven immigration officials working at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport were arrested last week as part of a sting which followed a joint Australian-Malaysian investigation of the people-smuggling syndicate.
Following a tip-off from the Australian authorities, the Malaysian police uncovered a sophisticated operation involving an international network of corrupt officials in three countries.
The police also unearthed a 'recycling' of fake Pakistani passports.
The newspaper said asylum-seekers from Afghanistan would pay up to A$10,000 to people smugglers based in Karachi, Pakistan and were given false passports for their flight to Kuala Lumpur, where they would be instructed to go to a particular line in the immigration queue.
Once their passports were stamped by an official, they would be met by a member of the crime syndicate who would then confiscate their passports, take them to a safe house where they would pay about A$3,000 for passage to Australia on a boat through the Malacca Straits.
The report said some Afghans were flown from Kuala Lumpur to Jakarta where corrupt officials helped them clear immigration and customs. They were also taken to safe houses to wait for their boat to Christmas Island.
Passports used by the asylum seekers were returned to Karachi for the next paying customers.
The syndicate's methods were pieced together by Australian analysts who found similarities in the stories of hundreds of asylum seekers during interviews with immigration officials on Christmas Island.
Of those arrested by Malaysian police last week, one was a deputy assistant director of the country's immigration department. Two others were a Pakistani and Indonesian.
A senior official in Canberra said Australian authorities were impressed by the Malaysian police professionalism and effectiveness.
The West Australian newspaper was told a "significant number" of the thousands of Afghan asylum seekers to have arrived on boats this year, used the crime syndicate.
Malaysian Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the syndicate was also linked to terrorist activities, drug and firearm smuggling and espionage.
A record 107 boats have arrived this year, carrying 5,088 asylum seekers, 2,557 of whom are from Afghanistan.
The next biggest country of origin is Iran (753), followed by Iraq (571) and Sri Lanka (393). - BERNAMA (NST Online)
Credit goes to PDRM for their professionalism and effectiveness..... congratulation!