Human smugglers go into hiding


ANGRY Indonesians expelled from Singapore and Malaysia are after the blood of smuggling syndicate chiefs who left them in the lurch after promising them jobs in the neighbouring countries.

Police chief Jose Rizal of Batam, which is being used by the syndicates as one of the many “launch sites” to sneak in the illegal entrants, said three of the ring leaders were now in hiding because they feared retribution from hundreds of Indonesians who had been duped.

“There are a lot of people waiting to take revenge against these taikongs,” he told The Straits Times.

“Taikongs” are syndicate leaders who use runners to lure jobless men all over the country to join the exodus for a better life.

Singapore and Malaysia fear the influx of illegal immigrants could worsen as the region’s economic crisis drags on.

Col Rizal said the government had banned Indonesians from heading to other countries without proper documentation.

“We were ordered to stop the flow of illegal immigrants and also crack down on the taikongs,” he said.

A 7-m-long sampan fitted with a 200-horsepower outboard motor can pack in 15 men. The trip from Batam to Singapore is only 20 minutes, and two hours from southern Bintan.

Despite the crackdown, a Straits Times check at various sites in Batam over the weekend found scores of Indonesians still waiting to cross into Singapore. Col Rizal estimated that an average of 180 Indonesians waited to be smuggled out every week.

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