Be careful of lucrative overseas job offers — mother of Malaysian detainee

By Nigel Edgar

KUCHING, Feb 10: You don’t need to go overseas to find good jobs. Just look for them here.

This advice for young Sarawakians comes from Zunita Sedini, 42, whose life is now in turmoil as her son, Yusuf Islam Abdul Halik, 21, is among the 47 Malaysians being detained in Banteay Meanchey Prison, some 400km from Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.

“If you (youths) receive a job offer but there are no proper documents and the offer sounds suspicious, reject the offer,” Zunita told a press conference at her house in Jalan Duranta here this morning.

Also present were some family members of other detainees.

Narrating her ordeal, Zunita said Yusof told her in December last year that he had secured a three-month high-paying job selling electrical equipment in Cambodia.

“We didn’t mind because he was being independent to earn a living. We could only pray that he will succeed in his endeavour.”

Zunita (second from right) showing a photo of Yusof Islam taken by an officer of the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia during their recent visit to the Banteay Meanchey Prison, where he and 46 other Malaysians are being detained.

Yusof would call home almost every single day, but the calls suddenly stopped starting Dec 9. It was not until two weeks later that he called back.

Then, one day last month, Zunita said she received an international phone call that broke her heart. On the other end of the line was her son, crying and pleading for help.

“We were devastated. Yusof said he and many other friends had been detained by the police in Cambodia, and he didn’t know where they were being held.”

She and her husband immediately sought out a friend who has contacts in Cambodia. That friend has been a lot of help to her family, and he is the one who got in touch with the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia.

Malaysian Embassy officials and the friend were finally allowed to see the detainees at the provincial prison in late January.

“That was when we got to see for ourselves the detainees and their conditions there. That was from a video call from the friend, who was with the Malaysian Embassy officers there.

“Some of the young detainees also spoke to us, asking us to tell their family members that they are all right. We told them to be patient and assured them that we will inform their family members.”

Zunita said she was grateful with the efforts being done by the Malaysian government in trying to bring home all the detainees, but hope the process could be speeded up.

Zunita (right) speaking to reporters about her son, Yusof Islam, who is among the 47 Malaysians detained in Cambodia. On her right is state PKR adviser Datuk Sri Hafsah Harun.

Yesterday, Julau MP Larry Sng said he planned to go to Cambodia to visit the detainees. He said he had written to Foreign Minister Dato Saifuddin Abdullah to express his intention to visit the 47 Malaysians.

Meanwhile, state Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) adviser Datuk Sri Hafsah Harun yesterday urged social media users to refrain from viraling speculations about the fate of the 47 Malaysians.

She said the speculations could complicate the negotiation process between the Malaysian and Cambodian governments to bring the detainees home.

Hafsah, in her statement, also said she was in the midst of arranging a meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and the families of the detainees.

Wisma Putra, in a statement, said they were in the midst of negotiating with the Cambodian authorities for an amicable solution so that the Malaysian detainees would be able to be taken back to Malaysia as soon as possible. — DayakDaily