Tuesday, July 16

Sng refutes NGO’s accusation of ‘influencing law’


The news was front-paged in Phnom Penh Post.

KUCHING: A Cambodian-based NGO (non governmental organisation) Adhoc has accused Julau Member of Parliament Larry Sng of trying to influence the law in that country.

Senior human rights investigator at Adhoc, Soeung Sen Karuna, slammed the diplomatic efforts made by Larry on behalf of the Malaysian government because ‘no other government should influence Cambodian law’.

“Sometimes, Cambodia deports foreign criminals and we never learn if they receive justice in their home country,” Sen Karuna told the Phnom Penh Post, an English-language daily in Cambodia.

Larry has however rejected the accusation. He was quoted also by Phnom Penh Post as saying his delegation respect the laws of Cambodia and they were there to understand the situation of the detainees.

“(This is) that we can convey this back to [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]and our government to see what sort of options are available in situations like this.

“So it is imperative that the governments of Malaysia and Cambodia are in constant discussion so that we can understand the situation better and also provide any form of assistance, whether legal or advice to those detainees so they can receive a fair trial … or bring them back to Malaysia, depending on what is decided by Cambodian authorities,” he had said.

A total 47 Malaysians including 44 from Sarawak are being detained in Cambodia since December. They were arrested on charges of fraud and running an online gambling racket.

Larry was also quoted as saying he was visiting Banteay Meanchey provincial prison in his official capacity to assess the situation facing the Malaysian detainees and to learn how they came to be in Cambodia.

“I told [those being held]not to worry because both Malaysian and Cambodian authorities are working closely to secure their release,” Sng said following the meeting.

Prior to meeting them one-on-one, a representative from the Malaysian Embassy and Sng provided “encouragement and hope to the detainees [that]the Malaysian government is doing its very best to secure their release,” said Larry in the news report.

Phnom Penh Post also reported the delegation returned to Kuala Lumpur on Thursday to meet with Malaysian deputy prime minister and family members to “seek more clarity from [the Ministry of Foreign Affairs]on what action can be taken through diplomatic channels. The news daily however, wrongly reported the deputy prime minister as Muhyiddin Yassin.

Meanwhile, the Phnom Penh Post’s same news report mentioned the detainees claimed they were lured to Cambodia by a Chinese recruitment agency promising high pay for work selling electronics or in the hospitality industry.

Mohd Azra, special officer to MP for Permatang Pauh Nurul Izzah Anwar, was quoted by the daily as saying that after the agency failed to follow through on its promises, the group out of desperation began working for an organisation with links to human trafficking.

Azra, following a request from family members, helped track down the detainees to Banteay Meanchey prison after they had been transferred from Poipet, where they had been working, on Christmas Day.

Eight Chinese nationals were also arrested in the same two different raids but were released because the authorities said that they only served as cooks for the operation.

Sen Karuna from Adhoc said the case shows that the courts are weak, especially concerning Chinese citizens. “The Cambodian government must create a committee to investigate this case to let people know what is happening.”

Phnom Penh Post also reported the Malaysians, prior to the arrest, were allegedly monitoring online bets on illegal gambling sites with tablets while living in Poipet and using VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology to scam people outside Cambodia.

Earlier this year, the General Department of Immigration ordered the deportation of 69 Chinese nationals in relation to similar offences. It was reported that the Malaysian delegation was hoping for the same result for their citizens.