PENGKALAN HULU: They have been living there for years but villagers in Kg Tasek only learnt about the human trafficking and exploitation case in their area when they read the newspapers.
A villager, who only wanted to be known as Suthip, 45, said when he woke up in the morning and read the news, he was left wondering how it could have happened here.
“There are lots of rubber and palm oil estates here. We have met the people working here but I have never seen those who lived in that building.
“To be honest, I did not know there was such a building in that estate, let alone workers,” he said when met yesterday.
Another villager, who only identified himself as Hashim, said he was shocked to hear about the news because the place had always been very peaceful.
“My friend told me about it. I really sympathise with the people affected by it. Many people do not know about the estate because it is not easily accessible.
“You need a four-wheel drive to get there. Normally, cars are only able to go up until the Gua Gendang waterfall. From there, they have to take a four-wheel drive,” he said.
The Star managed to trace the place but as Hashim had said, the 5km road was narrow and muddy, passable only by a four-wheel drive or on foot.
The Star reporter and photographer attempted to walk from the waterfall to the estate but the road conditions proved too dangerous.
Perak CID chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Gan Tian Kee said the rescued workers had been sent to various shelters in Rembau, Subang Jaya, Johor Baru and Tanjung Kling.
They will be in the shelter homes for 11 days until March 9.
Another man is currently being treated at the Sungai Petani Hospital.
Police sources said they were still trying to trace the estate owner and hoped to record his statement soon.
Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez said human trafficking was more likely to happen in smaller plantations, as regulations were in place in bigger estates.
Most plantation owners, she said, would outsource the recruitment of workers to “agents”. Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail urged the Government to monitor and better regulate businesses to prevent child labour.
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