SEPANG, Dec 1 — A total of 121 Malaysians stranded in the Laukkaing, northern Myanmar, following unrest in the region, were evacuated and brought home today.
The 121, aged between 20s and 50s and most victims of job scams in northern Myanmar, were flown home to Malaysia via a special AirAsia flight from Kunming, China and it included an Indonesian citizen who had been stranded in Laukkaing as well.
Deputy Foreign Minister Datuk Mohamad Alamin said the 121, who returned home today through the evacuation exercise that was activated, were among 128 Malaysians stranded in Laukkaing following the civil war which broke out at the end of October.
“The other seven could not be brought home for several reasons, but the government will keep abreast with the latest development and carry out further evacuations,” he told reporters after welcoming the Malaysians at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) Terminal 1 here today.
According to him, two of them asked to be exempted from returning home before the evacuation process, one was over 1,000 kilometres (km) away from China’s border, three others were not at the meeting point at the stipulated time and another was barred entry into China as he had a criminal record there.
According to a statement issued by Wisma Putra, the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon and the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming successfully coordinated the evacuation mission through the Myanmar-China border beginning on the morning of Nov 30 with the cooperation and approval of the countries involved.
Wisma Putra said the evacuation was implemented effectively following the meeting between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof and China’s two Vice-Premiers, namely Liu Guozhong dan Ding Xuexiang during his official visit to China on Nov 16.
Wisma Putra said all the stranded Malaysians were consular and logistical assistance after entering the Chinese border by the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming, including the coordination of a special flight from the Cangyuan Washan Airport to the Kunming Changshui International Airport.
Elaborating, Mohamad said the Malaysian Embassy in Yangon had sent at least 10 diplomatic notes to the Myanmar government requesting assistance to help get the Malaysians out of the conflict area.
“We also worked closely with the Consulate General of Malaysia in Kunming as Kunming is the nearest area for them to be taken out through the Myanmar border.
“So, we received good cooperation from Myanmar and China on how to cross the border since they did not have complete documents, but we received good cooperation regarding approval to cross the border,” he said.
He added that some of the 121 individuals are scheduled to give their statements to the police and undergo several legal processes while others will return to their families.
Wisma Putra’s data shows that of the 121 people, Sarawak had the highest number of victims with 54 people, followed by Perak (22), Kuala Lumpur (10) and Penang (eight).
“Malaysians are reminded to be more sensitive and vigilant when accepting any job offer, especially on social media,” said Mohamad, who added that the Foreign Ministry would continue several programmes to make the public aware of the dangers of accepting job offers without further scrutiny.