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Sunday, 18 March 2012

Stranded Viet women get help

42 Viet women in a house — and surviving mainly on rice
The Star

GEORGE TOWN: Forty-two Vietna-mese women living together in a house here have allegedly been surviving mainly on rice for the past few months.

The women, aged between 30 and 50, are said to be unable to return to Vietnam as their visas have expired.

They have been staying in a semi-detached double-storey house in Jalan Tull for the past few months.
The house has four rooms and a toilet upstairs.

Help us get home: The Vietnamese women in tears while relating their plight to Koay at their home in Jalan Tull, George Town, Friday.
 There is also a living room, a small room, toilet and kitchen downstairs.

It is said that up to five women would sleep in a room while some had to sleep in the living room.

The women's plight came to light when their neighbours informed the authorities after finding the noise made by the women, especially at night, intolerable.

One of the women, known only as Hai, said most of them were jobless and could not send money back to their families.

“Some of us have been in Malaysia for a year and a half but our visas have expired,” she said.

She claimed that some of the women used to work as cleaners at a hospital and were paid RM50 a day but their wages were later reduced to RM25.

“In the end, we were not paid at all though we continued to work. Only a few of us are still working,” she said, adding that their agent was holding on to their passports.

When reporters visited the house, three women appeared sickly.

There were some fish, vegetables and eggs in the refrigerator.

Hai claimed that their agent would send 20kg of rice to them every three days.

She added that they would add salt to their rice for flavour.

“We have been calling the Vietnamese embassy every day, asking them to help us go home, but we are still waiting for a response,” she said.

She added that all they wanted now was to return home.

She alleged that they knew of 26 other Vietnamese and Nepalese foreign workers who were men, living in another house.

The women cried when relating their misfortune to Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai who visited them yesterday.

Koay said he would contact the Vietnamese embassy as soon as possible.

“There are similar cases in Penang, such as in Paya Terubong.

“I will also contact the Immigration Department and the police,” he said.

 42 ‘stranded’ Viets get help

GEORGE TOWN: The 42 Vietnamese women “stranded” in a house here will be sent to a women's protection centre in Kuala Lumpur.

OCPD Asst Comm Gan Kong Meng said they had obtained an interim protection order from a magistrate's court here to send the women, aged between 31 and 50, to the centre.

He said the case was being investigated under Section 14 of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Act 2007.

ACP Gan said an initial investigation showed that the women had not been paid for two months, adding that police had gone to the house and taken a statement from Tran Thi Hai, 31, who used to work as a cleaner in a hospital.

Sad plight: Some of the Vietnamese women sobbing uncontrollably while eating rice and vegetables donated by Malaysians who went to their aid upon learning about their plight in the newspapers. — MUHAMAD SHAHRIL ROSLI / The Star

“We were told they have been on their own for about one month. They have to buy food and daily necessities using their own money.

“We have informed the Immigration Department, the Vietnamese Embassy and Interpol. We will complete investigations soon.”

Meanwhile, several caring Malaysians sent food items such as cooking oil, vegetables, beverages and rice to the house in Jalan Tull off Jalan Residency while some have shown interest in hiring the women as domestic maids.

Pulau Tikus assemblyman Koay Teng Hai said he had contacted the embassy, which was aware of the problem faced by the women.

“The embassy has contacted the Immigration Department and a meeting will be held tomorrow,” he said.
It was reported that the women survived on white rice for the past few months while their agent would send 20kg of rice every three months.

Meanwhile, 34 Nepalese and Vietnamese men, aged between 20 and 40, who are in the same situation as 42 Vietnamese women, would also be sent to a protection centre in Kuala Lumpur, said Koay.

He said they used to work as cleaners at Penang Hospital and claimed they had the same agent as the Vietnamese women.

State Immigration assistant director Mustaffa Kamal Hanaffi said investigations would be carried out to trace the agent responsible for the 76 Vietnamese and Nepalese men and women.

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