Report: Some 700 Malaysians trapped in Laos after responding to casino job offers

Some 700 Malaysians are believed to be held captive in Bokeo province, Laos, and allegedly abused by resort managers who are said to demand a large ransom for their release. —Photo Reuters

By Julia Chan

Tuesday, October 4, 2022 10:20 AM MYT

KUALA LUMPUR, October 4 An estimated 700 Malaysians are now believed to be stranded in Laos after being recruited to work there in a Chinese-owned casino and resort.

Malaysian portal News from Bénar also reported that the Malaysians are being held captive in Bokeo province, Laos and have been mistreated by resort managers who would demand a large ransom for their release.

“Most are put to work as online scammers, commanding respect through beatings and torture.

“I see a lot of Malaysian workers in the SEZ,” a Laotian worker in the landlocked Southeast Asian country said, quoted by Radio Libre Asiaan online news service affiliated with News from Bénar September 29.

SEZ stands for Special Economic Zone in the Golden Triangle region of Laos.

“In fact, I see people here from many different countries, including Vietnam, Myanmar and Malaysia. They work in many different jobs, but most of them here at the Golden Triangle work online as scammers,” the news portal said citing the anonymous source.

Another anonymous Lao worker who escaped from the area after being forced to work as a con man claimed that foreign workers in the SEZ were unable to leave or find protection because their passports and mobile phones had been confiscated.

“Foreign workers like Malaysians also find it difficult to complain to the Lao authorities because of the language barrier.

“They don’t know whether to report abuses to the government’s SEZ task force or to their own embassies,” the second Lao worker reportedly said.

The SEZ would be a gambling and tourism hub for Chinese citizens located along the Mekong River, where Laos, Myanmar and Thailand meet.

The story of Malaysians trapped by recruiters in Laos was first reported by three Malaysian NGOs on 25 September.

Malaysia’s International Humanitarian Organization (MHO), Malaysia Community Crime Care and Semboyan Malaysia Consumers Association have reported cases of Malaysians promised high-paying jobs captured in Laos and subjected to beatings, some even being shot when they refused to obey orders.

Some Malaysian women were also reportedly forced into prostitution.

MHO Secretary General Datuk Hishamuddin Hashim reportedly said four Malaysians were able to escape while six others were rescued thanks to the intervention of the Malaysian Embassy in Laos while local authorities protected the culprits from measures punitive.

The syndicate also demanded a ransom of between RM50,000 and 100,000 to free their Malaysian captives.

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