The government will give top priority to efforts to bring back all 47 Malaysians detained in Poi Pet, Cambodia, immediately and safely, said Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah.
He said that to date, the Cambodian government had been cooperative, even allowing officials from the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh to visit the 47 people detained since Dec 11 last year.
Saifuddin added that Julau MP Larry Sng Wei Shien, who clarified that 44 of the 47 detained were young Sarawakians, was also making efforts to bring them all back.
“We are getting the latest information on the situation. Our officers have been in contact with their counterparts there to ensure everyone is in good condition.
“The families of all the detainees have been informed of the matter,” he told a press conference after chairing the Pahang Action Council meeting at Wisma Persekutuan in Kuantan, Pahang, today.
Also present were the director-general of the Implementation Coordination Unit in the Prime Minister’s Department Zolkopli Dahalan and Pahang state secretary Salehuddin Ishak.
Commenting on allegations that they were being detained on suspicion of being involved in illegal online gambling activities, Saifuddin, who is also the Indera Mahkota MP, said that so far they had received various versions of what happened from the detainees.
“However, our view is that they were promised lucrative paying jobs there… there are charges regarding other matters, but we have not been able to verify them.
“We believe that this is a job scam. We wish to stress here that we respect the laws of every country, but (at the same time) we need to make sure whether the charges are true,” he said.
Yesterday, Wisma Putra issued a statement confirming the detention of the 47 Malaysians in Poi Pet, as verbally conveyed by the Bantey Meanchey provincial police on Dec 28 last year.
Media reports also quoted Sng as saying that a majority of those detained, aged between 19 and 44, were from poor families and were enticed to work in the country by the attractive salary.