A group of 121 Malaysian individuals, primarily of Chinese descent and ranging in age from their 20s to 50s, who were victims of a job scam in northern Myanmar, have returned to Kuala Lumpur. They were stranded in Laukkaing, near the China border, amid conflict as ethnic armed groups contested control against the Myanmar junta.
These individuals had been confined for months, coerced into committing cyber fraud, and have now reunited with their concerned families after a special flight from Kunming, China.
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin stated that the 121 individuals were repatriated through a flight from Kunming, China. He mentioned that the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon sent 10 diplomatic notes to the Myanmar government, urging cooperation to ensure the safety of their citizens. The Myanmar government responded positively to their requests. Additionally, collaboration with the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming, China, proved instrumental, given its proximity to the Myanmar-China border. Ultimately, they successfully rescued 121 Malaysians and one Indonesian national.
The evacuation operation commenced on Thursday morning through the Myanmar-China border, with the approval and cooperation of the respective countries, according to the ministry. This mission unfolded against the backdrop of ongoing conflict in northern Myanmar, initiated by an alliance of armed ethnic groups in late October. The groups have successfully taken over various towns and military posts along the country’s border with China, causing disruptions to trade.
Out of the total group, 107 were men, and the rest were women, with the highest number hailing from Sarawak, comprising 54 individuals. Residents from other states included Perak (22), Kuala Lumpur (10), Penang (8), Pahang, and Johor (7 each), Negeri Sembilan and Selangor (4 each), Terengganu (2), and Kedah, Kelantan, and Melaka (1 each).
Initially, Myanmar authorities reported rescuing 26 Malaysians. However, after the Foreign Ministry activated the operation, the number increased to 128 within a few weeks. The government, in response, initiated multiple efforts to bring them out and ensure their safety from the conflict zone. This included sending approximately 10 diplomatic notes to the Myanmar government through the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon. The ministry learned that these Malaysians had been involved in fraudulent job activities over a year ago.
Malaysia’s government will stay vigilant about the situation and is prepared to evacuate the remaining seven individuals who couldn’t be rescued, according to Mohamad. In recent years, numerous Malaysians have been saved from cybercrime and job scam operations throughout Southeast Asia. Victims of these schemes describe being enticed by the prospect of lucrative employment and accommodation perks, only to find themselves compelled to reside in confined spaces and engage in online fraud.