BANGKOK: It is a difficult job to rescue Malaysians duped by syndicates to work in Thai-Myanmar border controlled by the rebels, says Datuk Jojie Samuel, the Ambassador of Malaysia to Thailand.
These Malaysians sought help from the embassy after realizing that they were duped, physically abused and intimidated by the syndicates for refusing to work as scammers.
Despite knowing the location, Jojie said rescue operation was extremely difficult as the area was controlled by the rebels and anti-government troops.
No strangers were allowed to enter the building with armed guards on duty every 100 meters.
It is learned that a group of people once attempted to enter the building with the intention of rescuing the people trapped there but were killed by the armed guards.
Jojie told the media the difficulty in rescuing Malaysians duped by lucrative job offers and trapped in Myawaddy in Myanmar.
He said officials from the Embassy of Malaysia in Myanmar was once notified by the Embassy of Malaysia in Thailand of trapped Malaysians in the area.
The embassy official was chased away by the armed guards, he said.
The embassy also sought help from the Myanmar military but the soldiers were also chased away by the anti-government troops and rebels.
“Unable to enter the area, we don’t know exactly how many Malaysians are trapped there,” he said.
Despite the strict security, some Malaysian victims managed to flee the area and provided information to the embassy.
“Bangkok is far away from Mae Sot (492km) and it takes time to investigate and offer assistance,” said Jojie.
Since the first case of seeking help in December last year, the embassy, with the assistance from Malaysian police, Thai police, immigration and non-government organizations in Thailand, have successfully rescued 35 Malaysians so far.
Jojie said the first Malaysian victim, a 20-year-old man from Selangor, was rescued after his parents lodged a police report in Malaysia.
The Malaysian police, foreign ministry, Embassy of Malaysia in Thailand, Thai immigration and Thai police have worked together to rescue the victim.
With the support from anti-government troops, the syndicate was not afraid of disclosures made by the victims about their location and online scamming activities.
The Malaysians were taken to the border of Myanmar via Thailand.
They entered Thailand illegally from Kelantan and drove overnight to arrive at Mae Sot in western Thailand bordering Myawaddy of Myanmar across the Moei River.
“From Mae Sot, it only takes ten minutes to reach Myawaddy in Myanmar, and another five minute’s drive to the building occupied by the syndicate,” he said.
Most Malaysians were taken to Myanmar to work for the syndicate.
The number of Malaysians taken to Cambodia is small compared to Myanmar as the access to Myawaddy was simplest and fastest.
The 35 Malaysians rescued earlier in a joint operation between Malaysia and Thai authorities were taken to a court in Thailand for entering Thailand illegally.
They were found not guilty and awarded 500 Baht (RM62) by the court as compensation instead, being victims of human trafficking without the intention to cheat.