The General Department of Immigration (GDI) on September 28 was continuing to investigate 21 Chinese nationals who were placed in GDI custody the previous day. Following questioning, officials said it was likely that they would be deported.

GDI deputy director-general Keo Vanthan told The Post on September 28 that authorities were following standard deportation procedure.

“None of the 21 is in possession of a passport, so we consider their entry into the Kingdom illegal,” he said.

The 21 were among the 41 Chinese who sailed into Cambodian waters on September 22, before sinking between Poysareung and Koh Tang off the coast of Preah Sihanouk province.

Maritime police rescued 18 men, while fishermen retrieved three people and one body. Provincial police had found a further two bodies, with border guards on Vietnam’s Phu Quoc island rescuing another nine people, according to the maritime police department.

Provincial administration spokesman Kheang Phearum said on September 27 that the authorities were continuing to search for the eight missing people.

Provincial governor Kuoch Chamroeun had provided financial support to the four fishermen who participated in rescuing victims from the sinking vessel.

He commended the fishermen, saying they had worked hard to search for the Chinese victims. He also issued the instruction that a reward of two million riel will be paid for the rescue of each victim.

Speaking at the closing ceremony of the GDI’s Annual Results Review Meeting on April 6, Minister of Interior Sar Kheng reminded the GDI’s maritime police force that they must remain alert. He reiterated that the law must apply to any foreigners who attempt to gain entry into Cambodia illegally, regardless of their nationality.

In the first nine months of 2022, the GDI deported a total of 1,450 foreigners – 279 of them women – of 32 nationalities. A total of 230 foreigners, including 50 women, were deported on September 23 alone, according to Vanthan.