MALAYSlA stepped up the deportation of Indonesian illegal immigrants held in detention centres yesterday, with the aim of sending home all inmates within days. Malaysia's national police chief, Inspector-General Rahim Noor, said the move was necessary to ensure the camps were not overcrowded and to prevent 'any critical situation'. He said the number of illegal immigrants in the camps also had to be reduced to make way for Indonesians continuing to arrive in Malaysia. The police action came after Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave the green light for the deportation programme to continue despite the resistance of some Indonesian refugees, which led to a bloody clash on Thursday between inmates and police at the Semenyih camp near Kuala Lumpur. Nine Indonesians and an officer were killed. A number of those injured in the fighting and other camp inmates were among more than 500 Indonesians who arrived back at a port in northern Sumatra on an Indonesian naval vessel yesterday. As police were moving Indonesians out of camps, Indonesia's new Vice-President, Jusuf Habibie, stopped over in Kuala Lumpur for talks with Malaysian Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim on the illegal immigrants issue and other matters on his way to London for the Asia-Europe Meeting. Malaysia's position on repatriation has gradually hardened as increasing boatloads of Indonesians fleeing food shortages and unemployment have been intercepted. During a visit to Jakarta, Dr Mahathir said Malaysia would take into account Indonesia's economic problems in dealing with the illegal immigrants. But after the rioting in Semenyih and three other camps, he said it was too costly to allow the Indonesians to remain in the country. 'We have to send them back,' he said. 'No way are we going to change our stand. We have no place for them and it incurs huge expense to keep and control them and also provide them with food and shelter.' The rioting at Semenyih appears to have been led by longtime inmates from Aceh in North Sumatra, who as supporters of a separatist movement feared for their safety in Indonesia. The authorities want to send all Indonesian refugees back quickly so they do not have time to make weapons or organise riots. A decision seems to have been made to bypass formal procedures. For the past two weeks, Inspector-General Rahim has been calling for the establishment of a special court to deal with the influx of refugees from Indonesia so they could be deported quickly. The court has not been set up but the deportation process has been speeded up. Hundreds of Indonesians were reported to be arriving at ports along the west coast yesterday for deportation by Indonesian naval vessels and ferries. About 1,000 immigrants were shipped out of Klang, the port that serves Kuala Lumpur. The Malaysian Government has strong public and media support for its deportation programme. Utusan Malaysia said the operation to catch and deport the immigrants had to continue even though it was costly.