M'sia and Australia committed to address cross-border crime: DPM Zahid

SYDNEY: Malaysia and Australia will be more committed in addressing cross-border crimes, including on issues pertaining to illegal immigrants involving both countries, through border patrol training, exchange of intelligence information and closer cooperation.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi pix said during his three-day working visit to Australia since Sunday, he had met the relevant Australian leaders to explain that Malaysia was not a transit country for illegal immigrants.

"Malaysia is also facing problems on illegal immigrants, and now there are 56,000 illegal immigrants from Myanmar (Rohingya) in the country," he told Malaysian reporters before returning to Malaysia Tuesday.

During the visit, Ahmad Zahid paid a courtesy call on Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, as well as met his counter part, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Barnaby Joyce, Immigration and Border Protection Minister Peter Dutton, Justice Minister Michael Keenan and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop.

The visit was made to further strengthen bilateral relations between Malaysia and Australia on matters pertaining to illegal immigrants and addressing cross-border crimes.

Ahmad Zahid, who is also Home Minister, said Australia was also interested in the deradicalisation programme on foreigners implemented by Malaysia.

Apart from that, he said, Malaysia would send officers from the relevant agencies to learn the Australian module on its border patrol, especially in curbing cross-border crimes, like smuggling of drugs and weapons, as well as human trafficking.

"All this while there is a perception by Australia that Malaysia is a transit country (for immigrants to enter Australia) and this visit is seen positive at rectifying the perception," he said.

Ahmad Zahid said he clarified that Malaysia and its neighbouring countries, like Indonesia and Thailand, were committed in addressing issues on illegal immigrants and cross-border crimes.

Malaysia, he said, would also further improve the standard operating procedures (SOP) of agencies involved in border patrol as part of efforts to address cross-border crime.

He said integration among the four Malaysian border agencies, namely the marine police, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), the Royal Malaysian Navy and the Malaysian Border Patrol Agency (AKSEM) would also be enhanced. — Bernama