SIBU, March 5: The eight Sarawakians who were abandoned by their ‘tawkey’ in Monrovia, Liberia, sold their handphones and watches to stay alive.
There was one time where they had to live on porridge and papaya leaves. On several occasions, they had to live with empty stomachs.
Recalling their ordeal to the local media who shot a myriad of questions at them, victim Sallim Tahir, 49, narrated that they were paid RM2,000 before going to Liberia. He gave the money to his family.
He revealed that he was given RM200 pocket money and the flight ticket to Monrovia.
“They (syndicate) promised that upon reaching there, they will pay us. Upon reaching there, they didn’t give us any money.
“They did promise that once we reached there, there will be jobs available for us. It (Liberia) is not near. It is not Kuala Lumpur. Liberia can only be reached with a 22-hour-flight from Sibu,” said Sallim.
The eight were promised jobs at a logging camp, where they would be paid between RM8,000 and RM9,000 per month.
Sallim said they were placed in a decent house upon reaching Monrovia, except that the house was empty. They were forced to use their travelling bags as pillows when sleeping.
The ‘tawkey’, according to him, went with them and later left the country alone after the deal with his partners did not work out.
Before he left, the eight confronted him for a return-ticket to Sarawak, but they were chased out of the house.
“After leaving the house, we were assisted by local people. We sold our handphones and our watches. The house we stayed had no power.”
Sallim said there was another Sarawakian, by the name of Francis Lahar, who was already at the camp.
“Francis was there already. He also had worked for seven months without pay, so he came back.”
Sallim said it was true that there was no jobs in Sarawak.
If the job in Liberia worked out well, they could get as much as RM36,000 per month as they would be paid according to the cubic area where the trees were felled.
Sallim was one of the eight Sarawakians who went with a ‘tawkey’ purportedly to work in a logging camp in Monrovia, Liberia, on Jan 1, 2019.
The rest of the victims are Gawan Masin, 41, Enyang Ato, 66, Aji Surau, 39, Untol Luyang, 58, Suhaili Gani, 39, Bon Egat, 45, and Dingai Nyalak, 47.
After being stranded in Liberia for two months with no job and money, they realised they were conned. Fortunately, a staff of Sime Darby spotted them and learned of the dire situation they were in.
The company helped to connect them to Putrajaya, where they were brought back to Sibu by the Foreign Ministry last night.
Meanwhile, Sallim’s wife who was only identified as Mira said Sallim used to work in logging camps in the Solomon Islands.
She said he even went to Solomon Islands twice before he was offered the job in Liberia. — DayakDaily