I REFER to the news that 261 Malaysians were successfully rescued from a job scam syndicate in Cambodia, as reported by Bernama on Saturday (Oct 1). Kudos to the Foreign Ministry for saving these Malaysians.
However, the number of employment fraud cases is now at a crisis level and involves a greater jurisdiction than the Foreign Ministry alone.
Additionally, the figures announced so far are only a fraction of the actual number of Malaysians who are victims of employment fraud in Cambodia; there are some who are claiming that the actual number of victims among Malaysians is in the thousands.
These victims are not only victims of kidnapping and human trafficking as some media reports stated that they were also forced to commit fraudulent activities against others.
I would like to suggest five immediate steps for the Government to take in order to address this employment fraud crisis:
Stop the recruitment of Malaysian workers to Cambodia so long as cases of employment fraud are not resolved
A moratorium should be imposed on Cambodia where companies operating in Cambodia are prohibited from hiring Malaysian workers until the employment fraud syndicate is completely eradicated.
The lives of Malaysians should not be gambled in Cambodia if the Cambodian Government is unable to guarantee protection and safety to our people when they are there.
Establish a special mechanism to provide support to victims’ families and victims
The victims’ families and the victims themselves often do not know where and how they can get help.
When they make a police report, sometimes they are told that the police do not have the authority to act abroad.
And even if they do manage to escape the clutches of the fraudsters in Cambodia, they often do not have the funds to finance their daily life until they are allowed to return to Malaysia.
Some of them may be subjected to immigration action abroad – even though they themselves are victims.
Therefore, a special mechanism of various agencies should be established to provide support to the victims’ families and ensure that each case can be reported, investigated and resolved immediately so that the victim can return to Malaysia safely.
The police should take action against local agents
Most employment fraud cases have a local agent in Malaysia who contacts the victim before the victim is taken overseas.
The heaviest legal action should be taken against the syndicate of local agents involved.
Action should be taken against job advertisers who display advertisements in the form of job fraud
It is the job advertiser’s responsibility, be they an individual or an advertising company, to ensure that the job ad they display is authentic.
Scam job advertisers should be treated as equally complicit in a scam job syndicate and punished accordingly.
ASEAN should take more serious action to combat human trafficking syndicates
The Southeast Asian region has been blacklisted as a human trafficking region. It is time for ASEAN to take drastic measures in terms of law enforcement and stricter worker protection policies to combat the crime of human trafficking.
The businesses and products of the countries involved, including Malaysia, have already been subject to sanctions before and if the crime of human trafficking is not eradicated, businesses and investments in the region will be affected.
Therefore, Malaysia should take the lead at the ASEAN level to create regional cooperation to combat human trafficking syndicates. – Oct 3, 2022
Steven Sim is the DAP MP for Bukit Mertajam.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.
Main photo credit: AFP