Sabah to seek release of group held in Cambodia
Published on: Monday, February 11, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: The State Government will request for detailed information from the Foreign Ministry on Sabahans, who were among 47 Malaysians detained in Cambodia since December last year.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said so far, the State Government had not received any information on the matter.

“We have to know why they were arrested and for what reasons, and if they need assistance, we will certainly provide because they are Sabahans.

“We will liaise and ask the Foreign Ministry to communicate with its counterpart (in Cambodia) on how we can ensure their safe return to Sabah,” he said.

Shafie said this to reporters when met after the Sepanggar parliamentary constituency Chinese New Year open house hosted by Deputy Home Minister cum Sepanggar MP Datuk Mohd Azis Jamman at Kolombong, here, Sunday.

It was learnt that the individuals, aged between 19 and 44, had travelled to Cambodia for employment after being promised high-paying jobs but, instead, were duped by a syndicate and placed in a residence until their arrest by Cambodian authorities.

On Feb 7, the Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrest of the 47 Malaysians, who included nine women. They were arrested on Dec 11, last year in Poi Pet, Bantey Meanchey, for allegedly being members of an international online gambling syndicate.

The Malaysian Embassy was only informed on the arrest by the Bantey Meanchey on Dec 28, more than two weeks after the arrest and has since visited the detainees to ensure their wellbeing.

Earlier, in his speech at the open house, Shafie warned about “Little Napoleons” and corruption in the Government.

“There shouldn’t be any ‘Little Napoleons’ or red tape (in the State Government). If there are any talk about those involved in corruption, come and tell me. We will take the necessary action. We don’t want such things to happen.

I am very sincere in developing the State.

“I know as political leaders we need funds but these funds must be only for the purpose of assisting the people’s needs,” he said. 

In an earlier address at a Chinese New Year gathering in Semporna, Shafie had said that ministers and elected representatives or government officers found to be involved in corruption will be dropped and will not be nominated to contest in the next general election.

Shafie also called on the Chinese community to continue to give their cooperation to the Government to ensure that development in the State can continue to be carried out.

He urged the Chinese community and business leaders to work together with the State Government in its efforts to assist the less fortunate in the State, including fellow Sabahan Chinese.

“We must remember there are also less fortunate Chinese Sabahans in the State. In my area in Semporna for example, there are also many of our Sabahan Chinese friends who are still living in dilapidated wooden homes which are lacking in amenities. 

“So, please help me to develop the State for the betterment of Sabah people.

“The elections are over and it is time for us to look at how we can together help develop the State. 

“Let there not be any issue regarding race or religion, especially on the social media,” he said, adding that what is needed is how the State can be further developed for the betterment of all Sabahans.    - Neil Chan


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