KUCHING: Forty-seven Malaysians, believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate, are being detained in a prison in Cambodia since December.
They included 44 Sarawakians from poor families and about one-fourth of them were girls.
Most of the Sarawakians are aged between 18 and 20, disclosed Julau MP Larry Sng to the media yesterday.
He said they were promised high-paying jobs by the syndicate in exchange for a few hundred US dollars.
“What we understand is that they were brought to Cambodia (in) staggered (journeys) by one company in December and upon arriving there, they were housed in a private home.
“After a few weeks, no jobs were forthcoming and they grew restless.
“Then the police came to arrest them for illegal online gaming, which they denied,” said Sng who was alerted about the incident by one of the victims’ parents who approached him for help.
Sng said the Malaysians were held in a lock-up for a week before they were transferred to a provincial prison on Dec 16 and being held there since then.
“Some of their families have gone to Cambodia to find out where they are.
“They have not been brought to court or charged or remanded,” he said.
Sng said he understands that Wisma Putra was looking into the matter and that the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia was aware of it.
“Embassy officials have visited them to see their condition, and at this moment that’s as much information as we have,” he said, adding that he was working with several Sarawak NGOs to bring up the matter to the relevant authorities.
Zunita Sedini, whose 21-year-old son Yusuf Islam is among the victims, appealed to the authorities to help bring her son and the others home.
“He wanted to go to Cambodia to work. He told me he would come back for my birthday in January, but he didn’t come back,” said Zunita.
“I hope the authorities can bring all of them back. I pray that they are safe and well.”