Eight Malaysian citizens were recently able to escape from the clutches of a job syndicate located in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GTSEZ) of Bokeo province, with assistance from Lao locals who dug a tunnel in their town to help them flee.
According to a report in Free Malaysia Today, the victims decided to make a break for it because they were about to be “sold” to syndicates in Myanmar in two days.
One of the victims, a 34-year-old still remembers with horror the stern warnings issued by syndicate members on the repercussions for those trying to escape.
“A Chinese national was beaten in front of us. He had a broken arm and leg, and his head was split open. (A member of the syndicate) warned that if we tried to escape, we would end up with the same fate.”
It is not clear how the residents became aware of the Malaysians’ situation, but they took them through the tunnel, and there was a car waiting on the opposite side for them to get away.
Another victim said that he was determined to put up a fight even if he failed to escape. He was willing to accept just two outcomes – hug his wife in Malaysia or die fighting in Laos.
After being finally reunited with his wife and three-year-old son after eight months of separation the 35-year-old said, “If you don’t run, you will die. So we (sought to escape). Even if we die together, it’s fine.”
A 28-year-old man who was quite tall and broad wasn’t an ideal contender for escaping through the tunnel as he would not have been able to make it through. However, he was able to feign an illness and abscond with help from locals after almost getting caught by the man guarding him.
“It was my only chance to run. If I didn’t, I would have died. I am the biggest (in size) among the group (of eight Malaysians). Even they did not think I could escape. I was very lucky,” he said.
On Tuesday, the victims landed in Malaysia to be greeted by family members who were ecstatic and relieved on seeing them after eight months. They were extremely thankful to the Lao residents who helped them return home safely.
The families of the victims also expressed their gratitude to authorities in Laos, the Malaysian government, and the Malaysian International Humanitarian Organization for their efforts in facilitating their rescue.
“I cannot speak right now, but I am overjoyed now that my sons are back, thank you,” said Tham, 62, the father of two of the people who returned.