SEPANG: A total of 121 Malaysians suspected to be victims of a job offer fraud syndicate in northern Myanmar have safely arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) at 3.24am earlier today.
The victims who were stranded in Laukkaing, Myanmar, were brought back through a special Air Asia flight AK9106 from Kunming, China.
Their arrival was welcomed by Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin.
Mohamad stated that this evacuation mission was coordinated by the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon and the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming, through the Myanmar-China border, starting yesterday morning with the cooperation and approval of the involved countries.
According to him, this evacuation action was effectively implemented following the meeting of Deputy Prime Minister II Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof with both Chinese Vice Premiers, Liu Guozhong and Ding Xuexiang, during his official visit to China on Nov 16.
He said all Malaysians stranded had been provided with consular and logistical assistance upon entering China through the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming, including the coordination of special flights from Cangyuan Washan Airport to Kunming Changshui International Airport.
"The Malaysian government also assisted in bringing back an Indonesian citizen from Laukkaing after receiving an official request from the government of the Republic of Indonesia," he told reporters at KLIA today.
Malaysians aged between their 20s and 50s were brought back following unrest in Laukkaing, northern Myanmar.
Out of the total, 107 were men, while the remaining were women, with the highest number involving residents of Sarawak, totaling 54 people.
Other states' residents included Perak (22), Kuala Lumpur (10), Penang (8), Pahang and Johor each (7), Negeri Sembilan and Selangor each (4), Terengganu (2), and Kedah, Kelantan, and Melaka each (1).
Mohamad said initially the ministry received reports from Myanmar authorities that an operation had been carried out to rescue 26 Malaysians. However, after the Foreign Ministry activated the operation, the number suddenly increased to 128 people within a few weeks.
Following that, the government took several initiatives to bring them out and rescue them from the troubled area by sending about 10 diplomatic notes to the Myanmar government through the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon.
He said the ministry received reports that these Malaysians had been involved in job fraud activities over a year ago.
"Initially, 128 Malaysians were supposed to be brought back after the evacuation process, but the remaining seven could not return because two individuals withdrew, one was outside the distant area, about 1,000 kilometers from the border area, and three others who were supposed to be at the border did not appear at the designated time for evacuation," he said.
Mohamad added that another Malaysian citizen was stranded and unable to leave because the individual had a criminal record in China.
He said Malaysians stranded and not returning would be sheltered in a hospital because the area is safe from attacks while waiting for further processes.
He explained that all individuals brought back would be questioned by the police before being allowed to return to their respective villages, while Indonesian citizens would be managed by the Indonesian Embassy.
He said the government expresses its highest appreciation and thanks to the authorities in Myanmar and the Chinese government, as well as Malaysian government agencies and private entities involved directly or indirectly for their excellent cooperation in ensuring the evacuation process.