KUCHING, Feb 7 — Julau Member of Parliament Larry Sng today claimed that there are 47 Malaysians believed to be victims of a human trafficking syndicate being detained by Cambodian authorities for illegal entry.
He said 44 out of the group are from Sarawak, while the rest are from other states in Malaysia.
“The 44 from Sarawak are from poor families and we believe that they are victims of a human trafficking scam,” he told reporters here, today.
He said the Malaysians are being detained in a Cambodian provincial jail without trial and without the Malaysian Embassy being informed.
He said most of them are young, aged 18 to 20 years, and were promised high-paying jobs by the scammers in exchange for a few hundred US dollars.
“Upon their arrival in Cambodia, they were housed in a private home. After a few weeks, no jobs were forthcoming and they grew restless. Then the police came to arrest them for illegal online gaming. They denied it,” Sng said.
Sng said the Malaysians were held for a week in a lock-up before being transferred to a provincial jail 446 km from the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh.
He said all 47 individuals have been held in Cambodia since December 16.
Sng said some of the families have travelled to Cambodia to find out more about the whereabouts of their relatives.
“A check with the Malaysian Embassy does not reveal their arrest or whereabouts,” he said.
Sng claimed that the Malaysians were never produced in court to be charged or even to be remanded.
He said he only came to know of the incident after a parent of one of the detainees learned about what had happened.
“A news item was published about the victims by the Cambodian press. It seems that they can be held without charges by the police for up to three years,” he said.
Sng said 25 per cent of the 47 Malaysians are young girls.
He said the Malaysian Foreign Ministry will demand the release of the 47 Malaysians and said he had already informed Wisma Putra.
Sng said he will lead a group of Non-Governmental Organisations from Sarawak who will be working to get all the Malaysians released.
He said he and his team may have to travel to Cambodia if the Malaysians are not released any time soon.