Detained by immigration for working on a social/tourist visa

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asked on Feb 28, 2017 at 08:24
edited on Mar 6, 2017 at 05:40
Asking here because the place appears to be a good resource for information. My friend, an Indonesian, was detained by immigration on 15th February 2017.

She was working in a massage establishment on a social/tourist visa. She hadn't overstayed; the day they detained her, she'd been in Malaysia (Johor Bahru) for about 10 days or so.

I realize that most queries here are about visa overstays, but this isn't the case. This is violating the visa's terms as opposed to overstaying the duration allowed.

My question is, does this kind of violation:
- result in a ban?
- carries a possible prison sentence?

Would the immigration hold her until sentencing (however long that takes) or would they possibly want to deport her before her social pass duration expires?

Thanks for any information and/or insight you people can offer.
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answered on Feb 28, 2017 at 17:30
edited Apr 11, 2017 at 07:33
- result in a ban? >>>>>  YES
- carries a possible prison sentence? >>>>> YES

For women there is no whipping but will get possible higher fines (max) and ban (max).

Her case is violation of social pass (working) plus working in illegal trade. Caught working illegally is 10 times more serious than overstaying.

Deport immediately after serving any sentencing (if any).
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answered on Mar 1, 2017 at 10:36
Understood, thanks for the insight. We're just hoping they can levy a fine on her, bar her entry, and send her back. A prison term would be very difficult for both her and her family back home.
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answered on Mar 1, 2017 at 17:42
edited Mar 1, 2017 at 17:47
by   jeff005

Things may not be too bad for her.

She may not get a Jail Term. Immigration Courts not really keen to jail offenders. Who pays for the jail lodgings? It all depends on the Boss of the massage place. If he get a runner to pay her fines, she would be deported the next few days depending on available flight.

Normally the court, for this type of offences associated with females, a big fine OR Jail term. If cannot pay fine, jail la.. no choice. If the Boss disappears, or if drugs is found in the business premises, then it would a very long case in court.
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answered on Mar 2, 2017 at 04:55
edited Apr 11, 2017 at 07:34
Thank you once again for your response. You have been of tremendous assistance and a source of comfort in the face of what we originally assumed to be a grave mess.

Her boss is presumably a good person, in that he cares enough about her to not run away or desert her. I do believe he'll pay her fine, but they're apparently waiting on the IO to process her. It's been 2 full weeks since detention, and I did some reading last night.

From what I read, I believe the following is true:
- The Immigration Officer cannot detain her for longer than 30 days without producing her in court (if they choose to do so). So 2 more weeks from today, and she will most certainly be produced in court or deported. Won't be longer.

(Reference is at:
Page 32, point 35 titled 'Power to arrest person liable to removal'.)

I also read this:

3. Penalty:
Upon conviction punishable by a fine not exceeding RM1, 000 or imprisonment not exceeding six months or both.

So from my understanding, this is her case (i.e. violating the conditions stipulated in her pass which is working while not being allowed to do so on a social visit pass). Yes, the nature of the work is questionable/illegal, but if you look at it from an immigration standpoint, solely, this is where it would fall.

I am, as I indicated earlier, very hopeful at this point that her detention won't last long and she will hopefully not receive a prison sentence. Just a fine, whatever the amount that needs to be, and deportation. We want her back as soon as possible, and wouldn't even mind paying the fine if there was a way to do so.
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answered on Mar 12, 2017 at 03:49
Hi Jeff,

If you get around to reading this message, I was hoping you'd be able to provide insight. The update I have on this case is the following:

On Friday, the detained friend briefly contacted me over Whatsapp to indicate she had no idea when she would be released, and that she was in court with no lawyer present (so no legal counsel). She just asked me to take care of her family as best I could and had to switch her phone off. I did not have enough time to ask her where she was being detained, unfortunately.

Her boss hasn't been able to help much at all. He's got someone he refers to as PR (what does PR mean?) who's help he has enlisted since she was first detained. Apparently the PR is lousy and hasn't been of much help.

As it stands, she has already been sentenced and according to her (during the brief period that I did manage to get in touch with her before her hearing) the boss hasn't helped her. Perhaps she is unaware that the boss in question has hired a PR to do the job who's clearly lacking. I've been in constant touch with her boss and have been pushing him to resolve this asap. Early this morning he messaged me saying if she contacted me again to ask her where she was (location) and the fine the court levied on her. Presumably this is so he can go get her out.

I lost my **** when I read that message. He's supposed to have a handle on this entire ordeal and nearly a month since her detention, he's now asking me to try and find out her location while I'm not even in Malaysia. What the hell has he been up to all this time? Obviously I sent him a string of messages leveling blame for this entire thing on him and his lousy 'PR' who hasn't done anything thus far.

What I'm trying to ask is what happens now? She's presumably already been sentenced yesterday. How can she reach out to someone to get her fine paid? She doesn't have access to her phone, she's locked up. If the court has levied a fine on her, how do they expect her to pay if she's not allowed to communicate? Is there anyway to find out where she's being held other than her reaching out? Where would one acquire this info?

I'm going to constantly bug her boss into helping her out, obviously, but having some information would be very helpful. This has been very difficult for her family, and I can only imagine what she must have gone through all this time. She has an infant son back home and at this point, I'm sure the family just wants her back as soon as possible.

Thanks once again for all your previous replies, Jeff, and if you could shed some more light on this, I'd appreciate that very much.
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answered on Mar 13, 2017 at 01:58
edited Apr 11, 2017 at 07:40
Just personal opinions:

It all bores down to the boss of the massage place, how strong his connections are, in order to get his girls back to their country. For sure they should know where are the girls as he is in serious trouble too. But if does not have the funds, what can the boss do?

There are different types of raids conducted on massage places:
1) District level
2) State level
3) National Level (HQs')

The authorities involved:
1) Religious Department
2) Immigration Department
3) Agensi Antidadah Kebangsaan (Anti-Drug Agency)
4) Anti-gambling / Vice Agency

In the above case, your girlfriend may be clean being a newbie, but may not be so for the old birds.

There may be various services offered in the massage place, including drugs or sex services by the older girls or customers caught with drugs. These will be messy long cases in court.
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answered on Mar 13, 2017 at 02:14
edited Apr 11, 2017 at 07:41
For immigration raids on illegal immigrant workers at construction sites, factory hostel, the norm is to charge these people within 10 days. It is straight forward. The raids can be conducted by the district immigration, state immigration HQ, and more serious by Putrajaya HQ Immigration.

The worst is by Putrajaya HQ. The detainees can almost end up anywhere which have accommodation for women. To find out where a certain location is real difficult although not impossible. It may be running over 20 centers or more or even still locked up in police detention. Even the Putrajaya may not known where the detainees were transferred to subsequently. There is no national database as the different state immigration works independently, bearing in mind that there could be other offenses committed, not only immigration.

If have chance to contact, do not waste time for greetings, just get the location. You can Whatsapp her messages to tell her what to do. The police lockups or detention camps personnel will sure allow her to contact relatives overseas to post fines. No point feeding her for free and cramp up the jail or detention centers. There could other issues in her case. And having a useless boss complicates the issue. Just calm down and speak calmly to the boss and the PR (aka Runner in between). He is the only key now.

Only when an illegal immigrant have served any jail term and is being deport, only then Immigration will have records of deportation.

There is no use using agents nor lawyers. Most of them will just cheat your moneys. The key is the boss of the massage place, unless "he" is also a newbiz punk with no connections.
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answered on Apr 8, 2017 at 11:19

Hey. Been a while. I just wanted to let you know how things have gone by in the last (nearly) 1 month.

For a review, here's what happened:
- She was detained during a raid on February 15th, 2017.

- She then contacted me on March 10th, 2017 (briefly; probably 2-3 minutes of whatsapp convo at best) informing me that she was in court with no lawyer present.

- Everything went silent after that. The boss had no idea what was going on. His contact wasn't helpful at all. The boss would say random stuff every week (case is complicated, case has changed to human trafficking, case this, case that, immigration has been bribed awaiting update from them), etc etc

- On April 3rd, she managed to contact me again. She said she had just finished court. Apparently, the 'case' was not concluded on March 10th, and the next court date was set for 3rd April which was also the last session. She, along with other detainees, was sentenced to a fine of RM 900 or 2 months in jail if unable to pay fine. The fine was due 5th April.

I contacted her boss the minute she got in touch with me that day, told him everything. He called her, got the location of the court, went there and was asked to come back on Wednesday (5th April) to pay the fine. He went back on Wednesday, and paid her fine.

The lawyer handed him a document (Order Of Discharge On Payment Of Fine) which confirmed that the fine had been paid. It was addressed to the facility where she is/was being held (Penjara Kluang). He went there and handed them this document. I have a picture of this document, it's legit. Has the court's seal and stamp, confirmation of fine payment, date stamped, everything.

He told me that the prison staff told him that the earliest she would be released was this Sunday (so the day after tomorrow) and the latest would be 2 weeks.

I know questions never seem to run out, but is this normal? The fine has been paid, the court has issued a legal document to the facility to discharge an inmate, and they say that it may take *upto* 2 weeks at worst to release her? Why would it take that long? What procedures do they need to follow that would take so long?
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answered on Apr 8, 2017 at 16:04
edited Apr 11, 2017 at 07:43
I am out of town.

Just a quick note. Make sure at the detention camp, the authorities give her a special pass to exit the country. She have overstayed by now, or else may have a second set of issues at airport.

By today she could been discharged. No worries.

Yes the delay can be due to processing of the exit pass. Johor weekends is Friday and Saturday. 3, 4 days processing for special cases.
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answered on Apr 9, 2017 at 03:12
edited Apr 9, 2017 at 03:23
by   jeff005
Hi Fizzkizz,

I forgot to mention, she could have been released from police detention but held by immigration authorities in the same facility. 
She would not be released. The party who posted the fines will have to buy a one way ticket for her deportation. The faster the air ticket is presented, the faster she would be deported, no need 2 weeks.

Her longer detention maybe due to the fact that some arrested girls claimed that they were trafficked against their will, so when the authorities classified it that as human trafficking, she cannot call out easily and longer detention.

This could possibly why her ex boss and the agent/runner could not find them. There could have been muslims arrested too which then involved the religious dept.

In Thailand and some parts of Indonesia, massage therapy is legal for women workers, but not in Malaysia yet. Maybe you/we could have mistaken the boss for all the delays in finding her.
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