PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia — The Immigration Department (JIM) has detained several immigration officers at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) suspected of being involved in dishonest practices following reports of smuggling of Bangladeshis by syndicates at KLIA.

Its director-general, Mustafar Ali said the officers were still being held at Putrajaya Immigration headquarters for further investigations and his department was also taking internal action.

Without revealing the number of officers detained, he said: What is certain, immediate action was taken with the arrest of the officers involved and they were being questioned. If, proven they were involved in any violation of integrity, stern actions would be taken including dismissal.

But it would depend on their level of involvement in the matter. As for internal action, I cannot reveal specifically but firm actions would be taken, he told a media conference after the Immigration Department Monthly Assembly here today.

Last Thursday, a local daily exposed a Bangladeshi smuggling ring operating via KLIA by four major syndicates based in Kuala Lumpur and Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The syndicates were said to be have raked in RM5.2 million in profits by imposing charges of between RM15,000 to RM20,000 per worker including money to grease the hands of the authorities especially officers of the Immigration Department and the Malaysian High Commission in Dhaka.

Mustafar said his department had also sent a special action unit to Bangladesh on Sunday, headed by officers of the Visa, Pass and Permit Division, Integrity Division and Expatriate Services Division to strengthen the standard operating procedure for the issuance of visa to visitors from Bangladesh.

He said he had discussed with the Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun yesterday after report and the IGP said it was premature to reveal any findings.

Mustafar said the department had taken proactive measures to ensure the security of the nation was not compromised by tightening the existing policy so that the checkpoints of the country were not easily breached.

According to him, firm and consistent actions would also be taken to track down the agents and syndicates involved.

In the past, we knew of the need of Bangladesh workers coming to Malaysia and I had sent a team to Dhaka with the consent of the Deputy Prime Minister to expedite the process of foreign workers to Malaysia as we do not want any backlog and this had been resolved, he said.

In another development, he said the Immigration Department was prepared to accept applications from employers to obtain special permit for domestic maid which could be carried out online from January 1, next year.

The process is faster and cheaper and applications made without going through agents or middlemen will take up between seven to 16 days, he said.

From January 1, employers only need to pay RM3,500 to RM4,000 for the cost of levy, visit pass, visa and other processes compared to RM12,000 to RM18,000 via agents.

In the tabling Budget 2018, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak announced the government was giving employers a choice of recruiting domestic maid directly from nine countries without going through agents.