ALOR SETAR: Police arrested nine local men and foreign nationals who were attempting to explore rare earth elements (REE) in Compartment 35, Rimba Teloi Forest Reserve in Sik, on Sept 14.
Kedah police chief Datuk Fisol Salleh said the suspects, aged between their 30s and 60s, have been charged under Section 47(1) of the National Forestry Act 1984 for entering the forest reserve without a permit. They are also facing charges under Section 55B, Section 39B, Section 6(1)c, and Section 15(1)(c) of the Immigration Act 1959/63 for various immigration offences in the Baling Court today.
“On Sept 14, the police, and a team from the Kedah State Forestry Department, carried out ‘Op Bersepadu’ in the Sik forest reserve area and seized three vehicles in Compartment 35.
“Four local individuals, four Indonesians, and one Chinese national found at the location were taken into custody. Initial investigations revealed that all individuals were scouting for sites for REE exploration,” he said at a press conference at the Kedah police contingent headquarters today.
He added all the suspects failed to provide any permission letters to explore REE resources in the area and to enter the Rimba Teloi Forest Reserve.
“The five foreign nationals entered the country using work permits; however, these work permits were not intended for working in Kedah, so they misused the documents.
“We believe they entered the area around four months ago to explore REE, and their activities are still in the early stages, unrelated to REE in the Bukit Enggang Forest Reserve, Sik,” he added.
Meanwhile, Fisol said police arrested a local man along with eight Myanmar nationals in Changlun on Sept 20 and foiled a migrant smuggling operation.
“A team from the Kubang Pasu District Police Headquarters Criminal Investigation Division and the Bukit Kayu Hitam Immigration, Customs, Quarantine, and Security complex apprehended a Perodua Axia car in Taman Hosba, Changlun at 5 pm.
“Upon inspection, it was found that a local man, suspected to be the driver, was in the car with three women, one man, and a male child from Myanmar, ranging in age from five to 37 years old, without valid travel documents.
“Based on the information received, at 5.45 pm on the same day the police made further arrests of two Myanmar men and one woman in the rubber plantation area of Kampung Cherok Mokan, Changlun, believed to be a transit point for newly arrived Myanmar nationals in Malaysia,” Fisol said.
The case is being investigated under Section 26A of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 and the Immigration Act 1959/63, he added.-Bernama