Malaysians detained in Cambodia case raises many questions, says women’s rights group

A file photo shows the 47 Malaysians, 44 of them Sarawakians, being met by an officer from the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia recently.

KUCHING, Feb 8: The detention of 47 Malaysians, including 44 Sarawakians, in Cambodia since December last year appears to be a case of exploitation and trafficking that raises many questions.

Sarawak Women for Women Society (SWWS), in sharing the public’s concern for the well-being of the 47 detainees, wondered about the delays in informing the Malaysian embassy and the delays in updating the affected families in Malaysia.

“Why so many from Sarawak? How were they recruited and were any locals involved in this?

“What can be done to stop such recruitment and increase young people’s awareness of scams and what to do if one suspects or get caught in one?

“Are there other young Malaysians trapped in illegal, exploitative work overseas whose families have no idea what has happened to them?” SWWS questioned in a statement today.

The Society noted that those arrested included men and women from a range of ethnic groups and, therefore, possibly from different parts of the state.

It also noted that most were young, and it is likely social media played a part in recruiting them although this has yet to be confirmed.

“The channel of recruitment needs to be exposed and those responsible prosecuted. By knowing the means of recruitment, awareness campaigns regarding scams can also be more effective.”

SWWS said job seekers nowadays would turn to the internet and personal networks to find work. Therefore, the same channels needed to be utilised to prevent trafficking.

The society opined that one of the fundamental problems Sarawak had been facing was the lack of jobs in the interior and low pay across many sectors within the state.

“This makes our youths vulnerable to unscrupulous operators. More effort is needed from all quarters, including the business sector, to offer our youths a path to prosperity at home.”

It added that Malaysia is a source, transit point and destination for human trafficking. To change this, SWWS suggested that Malaysia need good working conditions locally and respect for labour as well as strong coordination of the enforcement agencies.

“While we press Cambodia to deal with our nationals with compassion and justice as they conduct their investigations, so must we do in respect of foreign workers recruited to work here, including women who find themselves unwittingly caught in the vice trade.

“Let the arrest of our citizens abroad be a wake-up call. We need to work for their release, prevent a recurrence and reach out to foreigners entrapped here, too.” — DayakDaily