|Malaysia cracks down on illegal immigrants|
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia -- Malaysia's prime minister Monday set March 1 as the starting date for a government crackdown on illegal immigrants, the BBC reported.
Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi made the announcement at a joint news conference with Indonesian President Susilo Yudhoyono, following talks between the two leaders. Indonesia is the home of most of Malaysia's illegal immigrants.
The crackdown has already been delayed three times, giving illegal workers more time to leave Malaysia before they face jail, whipping and fines.
The planned crackdown has been widely criticized by human rights groups.
"The soft operation to advise illegals to return home will continue until the end of February. We hope by then, all illegals will return home," the prime minister said.
Yudhoyono, who is on his first foreign trip since his election, was expected to thank Malaysia for its help after the Dec. 26 tsunami.
Malaysian volunteers were among the first to send aid to the Indonesian province of Aceh, where more than 110,000 people were killed.
Malaysia has also pledged to help rebuild the provincial capital Banda Aceh.
Closer economic and security ties were also on the agenda for the two leaders.
Parent site: "Focus on Malaysia"