PETALING JAYA: The families of Malaysian drug mules arrested in Hong Kong are urging authorities to provide more support for them, as it could help put an end to the syndicates’ operations.
The Star’s R.AGE investigative team revealed that drug syndicates were recruiting young desperate Malaysians as mules by offering them free holidays or high-paying courier jobs, and then asking them to carry items with concealed drugs.
Most of the imprisoned mules have information which they believe could be helpful to authorities, but find it difficult to share it with the relevant agencies without official help.
Tinesh*, whose sister was arrested in Hong Kong for having drugs concealed in a bag, is helping to lead an effort with a few families to gather evidence against the drug syndicates.
“There are 27 Malaysians in Hong Kong (in the past year) held for drug trafficking, so I asked the Consulate officer, what are you doing about this? He said no, he has to wait for a ‘letter’ from Malaysia,” claimed Tinesh.
Tinesh said he and the families would now meet officials at Wisma Putra to see how the government could help.
“I’m doing all this as a Malaysian. I want to bring this up to the government to open their eyes to look out for the poor people, the innocent people. Please help them. Please do something.
“I hope the evidence will help authorities punish the main players in the syndicates, so that innocent people would not get involved,” he added.
Many of the mules claim they have not even been visited by Malaysian Consulate officers in Hong Kong.
“We received a call from an officer at the Consulate telling us that our daughter was arrested and he promised to arrange for our visit with her in prison, but there was nothing planned when we arrived in Hong Kong,” said Ann*, whose daughter Shirley was arrested over a year ago on drug-trafficking charges when she was 16.
Ann said her trip to visit her daughter in prison was her first flight overseas, and having arrived in Hong Kong to find no one there to meet her as promised, she had to spend several thousand ringgit making last-minute arrangements.
“It was (Rahang assemblyman) Mary Josephine Prittam Singh who later helped us find a lawyer, connected us to the police and booked our flights to Hong Kong. The Consulate has not visited my daughter in prison at all,” she said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Putrajaya did not respond to requests for an interview, but an officer offered to arrange a meeting with the families to see how it could help.
Consul-General of Malaysia in Hong Kong and Macao Yap Wei Sin said the Consulate had specific roles and could not provide legal advice or counsel.
“When the Consulate learns of a Malaysian citizen’s arrest, an official will visit the individual as soon as possible. During the consular’s visit, we will gather information about the case and advise the detainee of his or her right to a lawyer,” said Yap.
He explained that the Consulate is working on fulfilling the consular visits by year-end to all 11 prisons in Hong Kong that currently house Malaysian detainees.
“If the families or detainee wish to pass on information beneficial to law enforcement issues, they should communicate this to their lawyer. Through the proper communication channels, the information may be passed on by Hong Kong police to Malaysian police,” Yap added.
Many mules and their families have expressed gratitude to Father John Wotherspoon, a prison chaplain in Hong Kong who has been helping them and working hard to stop the syndicates from recruiting more mules.
Wotherspoon’s work helped Malaysian narcotics officers arrest a syndicate leader in Malaysia earlier this year.
Sally, a single mother whose son was arrested over a year ago, said Wotherspoon had given her son daily supplies such as shampoo and bath soap.
“It was very hard to get information and I didn’t know where to go or what to do. But now that the police know everything, we will let them do their jobs,” she said.
* Names have been changed to protect those involved. To watch R.AGE’s investigative documentary into the Malaysian drug trade, go to rage.my/drugtrade.
WATCH: Investigating the drug mule syndicates of Malaysia