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BANGKOK: Malaysia and Thailand have agreed to enhance cooperation in combating cross-border crime, human trafficking and job scams, said Home Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail.

The cooperation was discussed during a bilateral meeting with Thai Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Anutin Charnvirakul on Thursday.

“We agree that cooperation between our governments, our police and Aseanapols is important in tackling these problems,“ he told Bernama.

Saifuddin also emphasised the need for joint efforts in the prevention of cybercrime and the proposed visa exemption for foreign visitors to increase tourist arrivals to Thailand, especially in areas bordering Malaysia.

He said he was satisfied with the results of his working visit to Bangkok that ended on Friday as the commitment of both countries was strong.

Saifuddin said his counterpart, Anutin, had emphasised Thailand’s willingness to cooperate with Malaysia to deal with transnational crime and to promote tourism.

“Anutin had mentioned the Thai government is implementing a visa exemption policy to increase the exchange of tourists between Malaysia and Thailand.

“He also expressed his commitment to deepen cooperation with Malaysia in various dimensions, including achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the region. The meeting marks an important step in strengthening the relationship between our countries,“ he said.

Earlier, Saifuddin met with Minister of Social Development and Human Security, Varawut Silpa-archa.

In the meeting, he said they discussed topics related to immigration detention and child protection where Malaysia has 20 immigration depots with a population of 13,000 people and their capacity to accommodate 25,000 people.

Saifuddin said Thailand has alternative detention programmes, especially for children involving the government, non-governmental organisations, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the local community.

“In Malaysia, we have a shelter home programme created by the government called ‘baitul mahabbah’, with one shelter in Nilai and one in Papar, while there are plans to set up four more each in Sabah, Kelantan, Kedah and Johor.”

He said Malaysia can explore Thailand’s alternative detention programmes.

“Such programmes are in line with the Malaysia Madani context where we need to have mercy and compassion towards those who violate the Immigration Act.”

Meanwhile, Saifuddin said his meeting with UNICEF officials yesterday touched on the topic of “National Screening Mechanism” and “National Referral Mechanism”.

He said his ministry is interested in the two mechanisms so that the screening process will improve.

“We will study the two mechanisms so that the way of managing or dealing with the entry of illegals and refugees will be more orderly.”