Border guards battle traffickers, Zika

Mosquitoes and traffickers are concentrating the minds of Malaysian border guards. Source: Pixabay

The Thai junta has approved an official Malaysian application to extradite 10 Thai citizens accused of masterminding cross-border human-trafficking activities as the country also steps up anti-Zika measures.

Malaysia’s Deputy Prime Minister Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said his government had submitted the 10 names to Thailand’s authorities during a recent visit to Bangkok.

Based on a study of mass graves uncovered near the border last year, the 10 suspects aged 35 to 60 were identified as having involvement in the crimes.

“Not all 10 suspects are in Thai police custody. Some of them are still at large,” he told the media after holding talks with his Thai counterpart General Prawit Wongsuwan on bilateral security cooperation.

Zahid and Prawit discussed extradition, cross-border crime, an international prisoner exchange agreement, immigration cooperation, terror de-radicalisation and border management.

The mass graves of suspected victims of trafficking were discovered near the border in May and August 2015. More than 100 graves were found.

Zahid said he had submitted a request to the Thai junta asking for biometrics data of anyone with dual Malaysian-Thai citizenship.

He said having dual citizenship could cause security problems, allowing people to commit crime in one country and settle across the border.

“Malaysia recognises only one citizenship and so does Thailand,” Zahid said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Health Ministry said it had increased monitoring at the two main border points to Johor following reports of confirmed Zika cases in Singapore.

Health director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said a 47-year-old Malaysian woman in Singapore had been diagnosed with the disease.

Singapore said there were confirmed 41 cases of the Zika virus. Hisham said Malaysia was vulnerable to the infection because indigenous Aedes mosquitoes could transmit Zika.

The health chief said: “Therefore, we have increased the monitoring and have placed paramedics at the two main entrances to ensure that the necessary measures can be carried out on visitors who show signs of being infected by the virus.”

Leaflets on the spread of Zika were being handed out at the border, The Sun Daily said.

He added that since February, the health ministry has scanned more than two million visitors entering Malaysia from countries infected with Zika and had found no infections, The Star newspaper said.

The minister said: “This includes land entry points for our neighbouring countries. For visitors coming from countries that have the Zika virus, a health-alert card will be given as a guide detailing what should be done if the person exhibits signs and symptoms of Zika.

“We have also examined over 784 blood samples of those showing an active possibility of the infection and found that the results were all negative for the virus.”