In September, a 20-year-old job seeker from Johor was abducted and forced to eat rats by a scam syndicate operating in Myanmar, where he and 15 other Malaysians were kept in a prison-like facility.
Mohamad Farhan Azman, a resident of Batu Pahat, described his experience to the Malay daily Berita Harian. He claimed that the organization had enticed him and four friends with lucrative hotel jobs in Singapore.
They left the island republic Sept. 13 for Bangkok, where they spent the night in a hotel before being driven to a farm area near the border with Myanmar.
“By then we have started to feel that something was amiss. Some people even said that we have been sold. And once we arrived at a river, a group of men forced us to get onto a boat.
“After about 20 minutes, we arrived at a location where there were armed men clad in military fatigues waiting. They then told us to get onto several four-wheel-drive vehicles,” he told the daily.
Farhan, who was eventually taken to a site in northern Myanmar, was recently rescued and returned home.
The article did not explain why Farhan and his friends had to travel to Bangkok rather than Singapore, where they were supposed to work.
But in recent years, during the pandemic, thousands of people from across Southeast Asia, including many Thais and Malaysians, have been lured by false job promises into bondage. Many originally ended up in Cambodia, held as virtual prisoners and forced to work in scam centers operated by Chinese criminal elements who have since shifted operations to Myanmar’s border areas, as Coconuts has reported.
The young man claimed that he and other victims were made to sell subpar goods to European customers as a ruse to access their bank accounts.
According to Farhan, once buyers clicked a link to make payment, the criminals would gain access to their bank accounts and siphon their money.
Female victims sexually assaulted
While he was fortunate to be saved and returned home, Farhan claimed that at least 15 other Malaysians were still held at the prison-like facility in KK Garden, located in northern Myanmar, where many similar accounts of captivity have emerged.
In December, Malaysian MP Sim Chon Siang visited KK Garden on behalf of those held captive there in a video posted to social media.
Farhan said that female victims were also sexually abused and forced to serve as sex slaves to the members of the syndicate, including the armed men assigned to guard them.
According to Farhan, there were also underage female victims who were sexually exploited.
“I do not know how the others are right now… because when we were there, the four-story building was covered with barbed wire and there was only one way in and out. It was really like a prison,” he said. “All of us, who are aged between 18 and 26, were unable to run away as we were closely guarded by the armed men.”
It is estimated that some 3,000 Malaysians have been lured to countries like Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand by human trafficking syndicates offering lucrative jobs and are now stranded there.
Al-Ehsan Islamic Welfare Organisation of Malaysia president Muhammad Ridhwan Sulaiman has told reporters that the syndicates also employed Malaysians who acted as agents to find victims.