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Malaysian embassies, consular offices, as well as enforcement agencies, should be the first support point for Malaysians to have access to justice and counsel to avoid them becoming victims of scams, fraud, or drug mules as part of criminal drug syndicates

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With the Lunar New Year celebrations approaching, there has been a surge in offers and promotions for Malaysians to work overseas for quick money, often involving becoming couriers or transporters for “packages” or “documents” laden with drugs.

The Malaysian Government, particularly the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Communications, has consistently emphasized the need for Malaysians to exercise caution and avoid falling victim to scams, fraud, and drug recruiters. Unfortunately, some Malaysians, in dire financial situations and too trusting, often fall prey to these unscrupulous individuals who exploit others for their illegal drug activities.

While innocence or guilt can only be established in a court of law, it is imperative to ensure that accused individuals have access to information, justice, and counsel. The right to be heard before a court of law must be upheld.

The crucial question is whether Malaysians detained overseas are receiving information and advice from our embassies and consular offices regarding their right to counsel, and are their families immediately notified of their detention? In many cases, families are unaware of the detention of their loved ones abroad until after a tip-off or tracking through social media.

A recent report highlighted the case of a priest, Father John Wotherspoon, who acts as an intermediary between Malaysians and unsuspecting drug mules currently held in Hong Kong prisons. There is a notable surge in cases involving Malaysians in 2023, with at least 40 Malaysians exploited, which is alarming. One case involved a 16-year-old Malaysian girl who was lured into drug trafficking with promises of a ticket to Hong Kong and RM2000 spending money. Her family had no news of her whereabouts for almost two months until they received a call from the Hong Kong Correctional Services.

Questions arise about whether the Malaysian Consulate General in Hong Kong knew of her whereabouts and the mechanisms for sharing government-to-government information on citizens in another country. It is essential to improve communication and information-sharing between embassies and relevant authorities.

Investigative journalism has revealed Malaysian drug mules being sent to various countries, and it is crucial for embassies to act swiftly in obtaining updated information on Malaysians detained abroad. There is a need for enhanced communication and information-sharing, which should be prioritized by Wisma Putra.

According to a report by R.AGE, only 10% of Malaysian drug mules get caught, indicating that many more Malaysians might have made successful drug runs. Over 430 Malaysian drug mules are currently in prison globally, highlighting the magnitude of the issue.

While commendable efforts have been made by DCP Zulkifli of the Bukit Aman Narcotic Crime Investigation Department to combat drug syndicates, challenges in communication between law enforcement agencies across multiple countries persist. The lack of coordination allows drug syndicates to exploit gaps in information-sharing, leading to cases not being pursued in the country of origin.

The Golden Triangle, where the borders of Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand converge, poses a significant challenge in the fight against the drug menace. With reinforced determination by the MADANI Government, Malaysia can gradually overcome the malignancy that has gripped the nation for decades.

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Media Statement by DAP Vice Chairman and DAP Member of Parliament of Seputeh Teresa Kok on Wednesday, 17th January 2024, in Kuala Lumpur:

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