A total of 37 construction workers from North Korea were arrested for abusing their social visit pass and overstaying in Malaysia.

The foreigners were arrested during a joint-operation by the State Immigration Department, Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency and the Marine Police on Tuesday (March 7).

The workers were busy with their daily routine when the raiding party arrived at the construction site of a bridge in Kuala Tatau near here at about 10am.

“Those who were arrested during the operation could not produce any passports and other documentations as the documents were being withheld by their employers.

“The raiding team has reached out to the employers to facilitate investigation into the case,” sources said, adding the employers to the foreigners were staying in Kuching.

However, further checks revealed that the foreigners rounded up during the raid did not have valid working permits and had abused their visiting pass.

Several North Korean also employed as miners at a coal mine near Selantik, Sri Aman.

“Records with the department showed they had applied for working permit, which was not approved due to certain reasons.”

The foreigners have been detained at the Immigration Department operation centre here while waiting for their respective employers to hand over their documents.

“Each of the foreigners will be subjected to a fine of RM300 (S$95) for overstaying. A fee of RM100 will also be imposed against each of them to allow the department to issue a pass allowing them to stay in Sarawak for 30 days.

“They must return to their respective country before the pass expired and they are to bear their traveling cost themselves.”

Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Amar Abang Johari Abang Openg had said that the Sarawak government will seek advice from the Home and Foreign Ministries on the fate of 170 North Koreans working in the state. THE NEW STRAITS TIMES