The Thai Foreign Ministry will extend its assistance to a group of 21 elderly women from the southern provinces who were duped into working as beggars in Malaysia.
The ministry’s Protection of Thai Nationals Abroad director Thatree Chauvachata said the women, who are aged between 50 and 80 years, have been arrested by the Malaysian police in Johor.
“All 21 of them went to Malaysia through brokers to sell crispy rice there,” he told the local media, adding that they entered Malaysia through the Danok border checkpoint in Sadao Province on Sept 24.
Their relatives grew wary of the women’s fate and sought the assistance from the Thai authorities after various attempts to establish contact with them failed, he said.
According to Thatree, officials from the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur are scheduled to visit the women next Tuesday, who are currently detained at a shelter as witnesses.
He said the two brokers who brought the women into Malaysia were also under custody of the Malaysian authorities and could face possible legal repercussions from their actions.
Meanwhile, Mamakadee Sulong, from Yala, said his mother Hamita Lalae, 57, was among the 21 elderly women who were arrested by the Malaysian police and asked for help from the authorities to free her.
The 21 elderly women, he claimed, took up an offer made by a labour agent to work in Malaysia following the falling prices of rubber and longkong, which were their main livelihood.
“The agent told the women to prepare worn-out clothes so people there would pity them and purchase their goods,” he said, adding that the women were arrested two days after their arrival in Malaysia.
In an effort to secure the release and safe return of his mother, Mamakadee alleged that he paid several thousands Thai Baht to the labour agent but there was no progress until now.
He also said his father had fallen ill after failing to contact his wife and had passed away recently.