With more Malaysians falling victim to human trafficking syndicates in Cambodia, Malaysian Ambassador to Cambodia Eldeen Husaini Mohd Hashim says the authorities are working hard to rescue these victims.
According to a report by The Star, Eldeen said that the Malaysian embassy had rescued more than 100 Malaysians working for syndicates in Cambodia since 2018. However, it remained a difficult feat as the embassy also had to go through procedures set by the Cambodian government before these Malaysians could be flown home.
On the other hand, he shared that there are also those who refused to be rescued or leave Cambodia.
“We have rescued many but many also don’t want to go back to Malaysia. Some of them ran away from home, some ran away from Ah Long. Sometimes they don’t want to tell their parents the truth.”
“When the parents don’t know what to do, they create stories that their children got kidnapped and were forced to work but when we went to rescue them, they said they don’t want to go back,” Eldeen was quoted as saying.
He said the embassy had been working hard to get the victims home as they felt for the parents who missed their children, but pointed out that each of them has their own specific case.
He added that the embassy, however, cannot just fly the Malaysians out as soon as they were rescued as there were procedures that must be followed.
He explained that those who have violated Cambodian immigration laws are required to serve their sentence before they can leave the country but the Malaysian embassy will intervene when this happens.
“Some of the Malaysians came to Cambodia illegally via lorong tikus (secret passages) and were without travel documents.”
“But the embassy can plead for them to be deported instead of being sent to jail,” he said.
He explained that after the Cambodian authorities conducted raids on these syndicates and rescued these Malaysians, they would be sent to the immigration depot to be investigated and have their documentation done.
“Once this is done, they will be sent to the embassy for the deportation process, where we will issue the Emergency Certificate and alert our police and Wisma Putra,” he said.
The Emergency Certificate is issued to Malaysians holding an expired, lost passport or a passport validity less than six months to return to Malaysia one way.
“Once everything is cleared, we will escort the Malaysians to the airport with Cambodian police,” Eldeen said.
Commenting on the claims by families that Malaysians in the Cambodian immigration depot were not receiving proper food from the embassy or legal counsel, Eldeen denied such claims.
He said he had visited the immigration depot in Sihanoukville personally and found that the food was being supplied according to schedule and that the living quarters were also not crammed.
Eldeen said the operations to rescue the Malaysians were only made possible because of the cooperation by the Cambodian authorities.
“They are helping us a lot. The embassy has been communicating with the Cambodian authorities to get Malaysians out of the syndicates,” he said, adding that they are also talking to other embassies such as Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia in coordinating this mission.
“We have the same problem so we talk to the authorities as a team,” he said.