Friday, March 22

8 Sarawakians stranded in Liberia arrive home

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The eight Sarawakians who were stranded in Monrovia arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport. — Bernama photo

SEPANG: The eight Malaysians who were stranded in Monrovia, Liberia since Feb 4 after they were cheated by an employment syndicate arrived at Kuala Lumpur International Airport  (KLIA) here yesterday.

The group, all of whom are from Sarawak, was welcomed on arrival by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, before they left for their villages on the afternoon flight to Sarawak.

The eight are between 39 and 66 years of age. Stranded in the African nation without any money, they managed to survive on rice  given to them by Malaysians working with Sime Darby in Liberia.

Aji Surau

Bon Egat

“If not for the rice, we would definitely be dead,” said Aji Surau, 39, after arriving at KLIA.

Besides Aji, the others who were stranded were Bon Egat, Sallim Tahir, Suhaili Gani, Gawan Masin, Enyang Ato, Untol Luyang, and Dingai Nyalak.

Bon, who had experience working in the logging industry on Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea, said they were offered logging jobs in Liberia with wages up to RM9,000 a month.

He said, he, Aji, and four other friends from Sibu flew to Liberia with a Malaysian whom they called ‘tauke’ and when in Liberia, they met Salim and Suhaili who are from Betong.

“The logging job paying RM9,000 did not exist and we lived in a house without water and electricity supply.

“The tauke abandoned us as he did not know what to do,” he said.

“Luckily, there were Malaysians in Liberia working with Sime Darby who knew of our plight, and they were sympathetic and gave us rice,” Bon said, adding that before that, they had to eat papaya leaves to survive.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Saifuddin thanked the Liberian government and the Malaysians working in Sime Darby there who went to the aid of the victims.

“I want to advise Malaysians to be cautious when getting job offers overseas, because this is not the first such incident. Check with the authorities concerned, especially the Malaysian representatives, whether the company offering the job is legitimate or not,” he said.

In a statement today, Wisma Putra said the Foreign Ministry through concerted diplomatic and consular efforts had successfully repatriated the stranded Malaysians.

This included a letter sent by Saifuddin to his Liberia’s counterpart Gbehzohgar M Findley notifying the latter about the stranded Malaysians and subsequently requested the government of Liberia’s assistance for repatriation.

The foreign ministry had also dispatched two officials as special envoys to Monrovia on Feb 26 in order to ensure the success of the mission.

This is the second successful effort by the government following the recent release of 47 Malaysians from detention in Cambodia. — Bernama