By Nigel Edgar
KUCHING, Feb 11: Minister of Welfare, Community Wellbeing, Women, Family and Childhood Development Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah today appealed to all quarters, including social media users, not to over publicise or ride on the publicity surrounding the 44 Sarawakians being detained in Cambodia.
She said blowing up the issue might hamper negotiations between the Malaysian and Cambodian governments (G2G) as it could compromise the case from the legal aspect.
“As our chief minister (Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg) has mentioned before this issue was viraled, he had been briefed about it and wanted negotiations to be done without glaring publicity. This is because if it is publicised out of proportion, there will be a lot of misunderstandings. The (Cambodian) lawyers handling the case may use it (against the detainees).
“So, the state government wants there to be as little publicity as possible. Let negotiations be done discreetly, so long as the youths are able to come home,” Fatimah told reporters at the home of one of the Sarawakian detainees — Nur Ridwana Syahzani, 21, — at Taman Sri Wangi near Matang here this afternoon.
Fatimah earlier updated Nur Ridwana’s parents on what the state government and Ministry of Foreign Affairs had done so far.
She reminded the reporters of the case that happened in Nov 2015 in the Philippines, where Sarawakian Bernard Then was beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf rebel group.
She said she went to the Philippines together with members of the Foreign Ministry to handle the case, but the Philippine government would only deal with the Foreign Ministry and the Malaysian Consulate there.
“So, we, the state government, have to work together with the Foreign Ministry and Malaysian (federal) government. They (Cambodian government) won’t deal with us (state government).
“We can only ask our Foreign Ministry to provide the best legal service for our youths there, and in terms of their welfare, we asked the Malaysian Consulate there to give attention,” said Fatimah.
Meanwhile, Nur Ridwana’s father, Mustapha Khan Habbibulah, 47, and her mother, Marsita Mohamad, 48, thanked the state government and Fatimah for their efforts in reaching out to them and other family members of the 44 Sarawakian detainees being locked up in the Banteay Meanchey Provincial Prison since December 11 last year.
Mustapha said he and his wife could only bury their emotions when they read the different viraled stories about the Malaysian detainees.
“It’s true that when this issue is viraled out of proportion, we could only read on the social media and bury our emotions, be it negative or otherwise. We just hope this issue could be dealt with properly,” he said.
Marsita chipped in: “My hope is our daughter and the other 46 Malaysians would be brought home safely.” — DayakDaily