Lured by RM8,000 salary, father of 6 falls victim to Myanmar job scam

human trafficking, job scam, illegal, immigrants
File photo for illustration purposes. Photo credit: Pixabay

By Shikin Louis

KUCHING, Dec 5: In the final week of May 2023, Mr Jong, a 42-year-old father of six from Kuching, stumbled upon an online job advertisement offering an enticing monthly salary of RM8,000 in Thailand.

Desperate to provide for his family, Mr Jong chose to fly to the foreign country for the job interview despite having little to no information about the position and the company, and was only told that he will start working if he passes the job interview.

He then packed his things and flew to Chiang Mai, Thailand in early June 2023, where his journey was arranged by an unknown individual, who was also a Malaysian.

Upon arrival at the airport, he and other ‘interviewees’ were escorted by armed personnel crossing the border from Thailand to Myanmar through ‘jalan tikus’ (illegal routes) where they continued their journey by road to an unknown destination in the north of Myanmar.

He sensed that something was wrong and informed his wife back home in Kuching, who then approached Sarawak Democratic Action Party (DAP) for help.

Mr Jong’s family also managed to contact the local Malaysian who arranged for his trip to Thailand but the man demanded an initial ransom of RM12,000 in exchange of his release.

When the family couldn’t afford to pay, the amount was increased to RM15,000.

Nevertheless, the transaction did not take place upon the advice of Sarawak DAP member George Lam.

Between June and July, Mr Jong had several conversations with his family back home, with him initially asking his family to seek help and to lodge a police report.

In their following conversations, however, Mr Jong switched his stance by claiming that he was ‘safe’ and that he would only need to work for six months before he can return to Malaysia, adding that his ‘employer’ had promised to pay him a monthly salary of RM8,000.

He also requested his family to withdraw the police report.

In reality, Mr Jong was coerced to make the statements while being held at gunpoint, all while acting that nothing was out of the ordinary during the video calls he made to his family.

Lam showing the media report on Myanmar job scams during a press conference at Sarawak DAP headquarters, Kuching on Dec 5, 2023.

Speaking to reporters at Sarawak DAP headquarters here today, Lam stated that his team had lodged a police report and submitted an email to notify the existence of the case to the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sometime in June.

“Up until Nov 23, 2023, Mr Jong contacted his family and informed that he has been released from his captors following the ongoing civil war in the north of Myanmar.

“From there, we were able to contact the Embassy of Malaysia in Myanmar and the Malaysian government then arranged a special chartered flight from Kunming, China to Kuala Lumpur on Dec 1, 2023, to rescue Mr Jong and 120 other Malaysian job scam victims.

“Since Mr Jong was unable to afford the airfare of over RM600 for a flight home on the same day, Sarawak DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen has arranged it for him,” Lam said.

Lam further advised family members of scam victims currently stranded in other countries to not only lodge a report to the police but also the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“Once you are able to get a hold of your family member who has fallen victim to the scam, please ask them to send you the details of their flight itinerary and latest location which would allow the Malaysian embassy and the relevant authorities to rescue the victim,” he added.

Lam also called on the Federal government to conduct an investigation in finding the local Malaysian involved in the human trafficking syndicate, as well as the Sarawak government to provide better salary scheme for Sarawakians so that they do not need to risk their safety by working abroad. — DayakDaily