KUALA LUMPUR: Representatives from the Malaysian embassy in Phnom Penh will meet the Cambodian Justice Ministry’s representatives to secure freedom for the 47 Malaysians detained in Cambodia.
A source said the Malaysian team would be led by deputy head of mission Ruzaimi Mohamad, and would meet with a delegation led by Cambodian Justice Minister Ang Vong Vathana.
“The minister has agreed to meet next week and we are in the midst of confirming the date of the meeting.
“We will seek clarification on what happened.
“The meeting will discuss the case — who, when, what and how this could have happened, as well as finding a way to bring the Malaysians home.
“The Foreign Ministry, as we speak, is trying to get those arrested out of Cambodia as soon as possible,” the source told the New Straits Times.
He said they would request an explanation as to why the Malaysian embassy was only informed by the Banteay Mancheay police — where the Malaysians were detained — on Dec 28, more than two weeks after their arrests on Dec 11.
Another source said Cambodian authorities had been responsive and accommodating towards Malaysian representatives there after the embassy sent a diplomatic note seeking the release of the 47 to the Cambodian Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Ministry.
Based on Cambodian news reports, there were 55 people detained — 47 from Malaysia and eight from China.
They were arrested for alleged involvement in illegal online gambling.
The Malaysians, including nine women, were detained on Dec 11 in Poipet, Banteay Mancheay, 400km from the Cambodian capital, for allegedly being members of an international online gambling syndicate.
However, the Malaysian embassy in Cambodia found that the Malaysians, aged between 19 and 44, and mostly from Sabah and Sarawak, had been waiting for legitimate jobs while in Cambodia.
They had been offered lucrative jobs paying between US$100 (RM407) and US$200 a day by a “recruitment agency”.
It is believed that the agency was a front for a human trafficking syndicate.
Sources said the team was set up by the embassy in Phnom Penh and monitored by Wisma Putra.
“If there is evidence that they committed crimes in Cambodia, the court process needs to be conducted as soon as possible. But if there is no evidence, they need to be freed immediately.
“We are working closely with the Cambodian government to ensure justice for the 47 Malaysians.
“If they are not charged, the Cambodian government must release them,” said a source.