Detainees’ family members leave for Cambodia

KUCHING, Feb 13: Family members of Sarawakian detainees departed for Cambodia this morning to personally see the situation and condition of their loved ones held in Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison, Poipet.

Among them were Yusuf Islam Abdul Halik’s mother Zunita Sedini and sister of another detainee Chong Mei Lan.

Julau Member of Parliament (MP) Larry Sng accompanied the group which also comprised of four Sarawak media representatives and a doctor. They departed for Siem Reap, Cambodia from Kuala Lumpur International Airport 2 (KLIA2) at 6.45am.

Sng said he would speak to officials from the Embassy of Malaysia in Cambodia and Cambodian authorities on how best to tackle this issue if given the opportunity.

Sng addressing the media before the group’s departure to Cambodia.

“Also, to look at the timeline of their (detainees) trial or perhaps secure their immediate release. I think these are the issue which we are getting piecemeal information here in Malaysia,” he told reporters at the airport this morning.

“By going to Cambodia, we hope to get information directly from the source,” he emphasised.

Meanwhile, Zunita told reporters her 21-year-old son had gone to Cambodia as he wanted to work and earn a living.

“I then heard he was detained and later got the help of uncle Azra to look for him until he was found.

“I hope my son and all the detainees can come home,” added Zunita who got teary when asked for her hopes for this trip.

Upon arrival in Siem Reap, the group will head to the detention centre located on the city’s outskirts, which is about a 90-minute journey by car from the city.

The trip is aimed at assisting the families to visit the detainees and to check on their condition at the lock-up.

Sng (centre) speaking to the detainees’ family members at the airport before departure to Cambodia.

It was learnt that the group will be joined by a representative from the Embassy of Malaysia in Cambodia and an individual known as Mohd Azra Abdul Razak, who has been helping to take care of the welfare of the detainees.

In total, 47 Malaysians — 44 of whom are Sarawakians — have been detained at the prison since Dec 11 last year.

It was claimed that these 47 Malaysians were victims of human trafficking. They were promised high-paying jobs by scammers in exchange for about US$200.

Upon their arrival in Cambodia, they were housed in a private home. After several weeks, they felt restless when no jobs were forthcoming. However, they were arrested by the police for alleged involvement in illegal online gaming.

The detainees have denied the allegations.

They were held for a week in a lock-up before being transferred to the provincial prison where they have remained until now. — DayakDaily