Saifuddin (centre) shakes hands with eight Sarawakians on their arrival at KLIA. Photo: Bernama
Saifuddin (centre) shakes hands with the eight Sarawakians on their arrival at KLIA. Photo: Bernama

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

The arrival of the group, all of whom are from Sarawak, at KLIA was welcomed by Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, before they left for their villages on the afternoon flight to Sarawak. They were between 39 and 66 years of age.

Aji Surau

The eight men who were stranded in the African nation without any money managed to survive because of the rice that was given to them by Malaysians working with a Sime Darby company in Liberia.

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

Bon, who had experience working in the logging industry on Solomon Island 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 knew as ‘tauke’ and when in Liberia, they met Salim and Suhaili who were 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 today, 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 despatched 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