Wisma Putra needs more funds to better assist M’sian victims of job scams stuck overseas, says Saifuddin

KUALA LUMPUR: Additional funds have been requested via Budget 2023 to allow Malaysian consulates to provide better consular assistance and welfare protection for Malaysians who have fallen victim to job scams and are stranded overseas, says Datuk Seri Saifuddin Abdullah.

The Foreign Minister told the Dewan Rakyat that at the moment the funds were not enough and Wisma Putra had to ask for assistance from relevant parties in certain situations.

"However, I really am hopeful as we have raised this issue in our request for Budget 2023 to spend on consular services in certain countries," he said in reply to a supplementary question from Dr Maszlee Malik (PH-Simpang Renggam) during Question Time on Tuesday (Oct 4).

Maszlee had asked Wisma Putra to reveal if the government was prepared to pay for the cost to repatriate Malaysian job scam victims overseas.

Saifuddin also revealed that as of September this year, a total of 90 Malaysians were still stranded overseas after being lured by working syndicates and human trafficking, but they were in the process of being repatriated back to Malaysia.

He added that a total of 261 victims have been rescued from four countries namely, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand.

"From the total, 171 Malaysians have returned to Malaysia, while 90 people were still waiting for the repatriation process," he said, adding that another 88 were still being identified.

He said all reports lodged with Wisma Putra by relatives or family members would be forwarded to the respective consulates and embassies for further action.

"At the same time, the process is subject to the procedures and laws of the respective countries involving matters such as investigation, intel gathering, rescuing efforts, documentation, and others, which will take time," he said.

Meanwhile, he said that on Sept 21, the Cabinet agreed to form a special committee, led by Wisma Putra, to deal with job scam syndicate cases involving Malaysians more comprehensively.

"I am chairing the special committee and have conducted meetings previously.

"All the relevant agencies have given their full cooperation to Wisma Putra, which is aimed to improve the coordination of tasks which have already been implemented currently," he said.

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