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Sarawakians arrested in Cambodia: – Action Needed at Many Levels

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 8 February 2019

Sarawak Women for Women Society shares the public concern for the 47 Malaysians arrested in Cambodia who appear to be victims of exploitation and trafficking. 

There are many questions to be answered as the details of this traumatic experience are uncovered.  These include: –

  • Why were there delays in the Malaysian embassy being informed and once they knew further delays in updating their 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 suspect or 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 notes that those arrested included both men and women who come from a range of ethnic groups and therefore possibly different parts of the state. 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. Job seekers of today will turn to the internet and personal networks to find work. The same channels need to be utilized to prevent trafficking.

One of the fundamental problems Sarawak faces is the lack of jobs in the interior and low pay across many sectors within the State. This makes our youth vulnerable to unscrupulous operators.  More effort is needed from all quarters, including the business sector, to offer our youth a path to prosperity at home.

Malaysia is a source, transit point and destination for human trafficking.  To change this, we 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 reoccurrence and reach out to foreigners entrapped here too.