Wisma Putra discussing with Cambodia in bid to release 47 held in prison

KUCHING: Wisma Putra and the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, are now in talks with Cambodian officials to seek the release of 47 Malaysians, including those from Sarawak, who are detained in the Banteay Meanchey Prison, a Foreign Ministry official said.

“It (release of the Malaysian detainees) has to be done according to the legal procedures of the country concerned,” said Deddy Faisal Ahmad Salleh, the director of the Sarawak regional office of the Foreign Ministry.

He told Bernama that the family members of the detainees concerned could contact Wisma Putra for the latest information on their loved ones.

The Foreign Ministry confirmed the detention of 47 Malaysians in Poi Pet, Cambodia since Dec 11. They were suspected of being involved in online gambling activities.

According to the ministry, they were verbally informed about the detention of the 47 Malaysians by the Bantey Meanchey police on Dec 28.

In Kota Kinabalu, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the state government was ready to help the Sabahans detained in Cambodia.

He will gather information on why the 47 Malaysians, some of whom were believed to be Sabahans, were detained there.

“I have to get the accurate details as to why they were detained and where necessary, we will try our best to get them back here,” he said after a Chinese New Year function in Kolombong near here yesterday.

He said the state government would deal with the Foreign Ministry and communicate with their counterparts in Cambodia to handle the matter.

It is learnt that the 47 Malaysians, comprising 44 Sarawakians (unclear how many are Sabahans), were duped into working in Cambodia.

They were said to have been promised high-paying jobs, but instead became victims of trafficking syndicates and later detained by the local authorities there for allegedly being involved in online gambling activities.

They were never charged in court but according to Cambodian laws, they can be detained without trial up to three years.

Cambodia , Wisma Putra , detainees