Detention in Cambodia due to poverty — think-tank

DTTAS founder cum advisor Wellie Henry Majang

KUCHING, Feb 9: Dayak Think-Tank Association Sarawak (DTTAS) believes that poverty is one of the main reasons that drove 47 Malaysians to Cambodia to seek greener pastures but only to find themselves in a district prison there.

In a joint statement, DTTAS founder cum advisor Wellie Henry Majang and its president, Elias Lipi Mat, said they were shocked by the news that 44 of the human trafficking victims were from Sarawak, where 10 were young women aged between 18 and 20.

In hoping that the Malaysian and state governments could help to save and free all of them from prison, the duo said poverty was one of the causes that led to human trafficking activity in their homeland.

DTTAS president Elias Lipi Mat.

To find ways to change their lives for the better, “one of the ways for them is to migrate to another country that is far developed and have a lot more employment opportunities.”

They added that to migrate to another country, they had to make contact with a certain party, and that party could often try to take advantage of the situation.


Willie and Elias cautioned that the syndicate could disguise themselves as an employment agency due to weaknesses in their legal system.

“Malaysia is ranked 16 among poor-performing countries in curbing human trafficking issues. This has shown the country is weak in administering and enforcing the law,” they said.

The duo observed that the problem of human trafficking was getting increasingly serious and was being driven by various causes, one of which is the lucrative profit from such activities.

“The syndicates are willing to exploit people who need jobs by providing work such as gross labourers or prostitutes. The lucrative returns make them more greedy and they ignore the human rights and dignity of their victims.

“Therefore, this problem should be taken seriously as it can cause trauma to the victims,” they asserted.

Willie and Elias proposed that the culprits be heavily punished.

“The absence of severe penalties makes those who mastermind it more daring in carrying out these criminal activities,” they reckoned, adding that human trafficking activity had domestic and international networks.

“As such, it allows these syndicates to carry out their activities with ease as it cannot be traced by the enforcement authorities. For example, these syndicates will deal with a certain party to ensure that the victims had legitimate documentation and this makes it difficult to spot that they had infringed the law,” the duo said.

Willie and Elias said the issue of human trafficking must be taken seriously as it could tarnish the image of the country involved. — DayakDaily