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141 Defrauded Laborers Return from Malaysia

A group of 141 Chinese laborers left Malaysia for Fuzhou in East China Thursday to be reunited with their families before the traditional Chinese New Year.

The laborers, mostly from Jiangsu, Shandong, Henan and Heilongjiang provinces, have been cheated by illegal agencies at home and in Malaysia who had promised to arrange work for them in Malaysia. The men had all been promised a considerable income.

Ning Jun with the visa department of the Chinese Embassy in Malaysia, who saw the workers off yesterday, told China Daily via phone that the embassy had sent back at least 1,200 such Chinese since last May.

"Things are really getting worse with this situation," he said.

Yesterday, the Beijing Daily Messenger reported that 50 Chinese workers from rural areas of Jiangsu and Henan provinces were wondering the Malaysian streets without shelter or money.

They had paid 30,000 to 40,000 yuan (US$3,600 to 4,800) each to illegal intermediary agencies in China who had arranged for them to go to Malaysia with tourist visas and promised them a weekly income of 1,800 yuan (US$217), the report said.

They were supposed to go to work at construction sites and had their passports taken by their employers. After nearly 20 days, they found out they not only earned little money, but faced possible punishment if caught by police, since local laws ban people from working without a permit in Malaysia.

They had no way out, and left their construction sites and began wondering around.

When asked to confirm the dire situation, witnesses to the workers' plight Ning Jun and his colleague Xuan Xuguo answered they could not confirm the cases unless accurate names were given, because "too many Chinese have been cheated and turned in to the embassy recently."

"There are too many of the workers. We gave away the lobby and backyard of our office building at night for them to sleep, and we sought help from local Chinese who willingly provided food for them," said Ning.

Xuan wished to call attention through the media that stricter measures should be taken to prevent such fraud.

The governments of China and Malaysia have discussed ways of introducing skilled Chinese laborers to travel to Malaysia.

The Messenger reports that 18 Chinese intermediary agencies will be assigned to introduce Chinese workers to Malaysia, provide training and guarantee the workers' quality.

It is expected that the first batch of Chinese laborers will arrive in April or May to work in construction and manufacturing.

(China Daily January 20, 2004)


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