KUALA LUMPUR: After a heartbreaking journey that saw them travel to Thailand only to see their son dead and to bring home his ashes, the parents of Goi Zhen Feng are appealing to the government to rescue other scam victims trapped in Myanmar and Cambodia.
They are hoping there would be no more fatalities.
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Zhen Feng was about to graduate as a teacher but the 23-year-old went to Bangkok in January to meet a “girlfriend” he had only contacted online.
He never came home. He was trafficked to Myanmar and was forced to work for a human trafficking syndicate.
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The family discovered Zhen Feng had died in May under a fake name in a Thai hospital in Mae Sot, across the river from the Myanmar complex.
He was hospitalised in intensive care for a month and his cause of death was reported to be infection in his heart and lungs, his father Goi Chee Kong told AP.
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The older Goi said his son failed to return for his mom’s birthday in February after going to meet the woman in Thailand.
He made his first – and last – call to his parents in March saying he had been beaten up for allegedly faking illness and needed RM80,000 so he could be hospitalised.
Following a tip-off by another Malaysian victim who had returned to the country, it was learnt that Zhen Feng was taken to KK Garden in the Myawaddy township near the Thai border to work for companies engaged in online scams.
Malaysian officials said KK Garden is a casino and entertainment complex in the Myawaddy village of Shwe Kokko that involves Chinese investment. It is suspected of being a hub for organised crimes.
Zhen Feng was cremated on Thursday at the Hin Kong Temple in Si Racha, about 120km southeast of Bangkok, and his ashes brought back to Ipoh.
Zhen Feng’s funeral was held at Papan Memorial Park on Sunday.
“We are slowly accepting the reality that my son is dead,” Goi told a news conference.
“I hope my son is the first and last (Malaysian) to die due to such scams,” he said.
Two other Malaysians shared their stories of being tricked to work in Shwe Kokko.
A 30-year-old man said he was hoodwinked by a Malaysian he befriended on WeChat, a Chinese messaging app. He was offered 50,000 Thai baht (about US$1,300/RM5,900) a month for an easy job and flew to Bangkok in mid-July.
He was taken to Mae Sot and crossed the river into Myanmar where armed men in military outfits escorted him to the complex. He said he saw some 200 Malaysians in the complex during his stay there, where he was made to work 15 hours daily recruiting people for the operations.
After his family paid a RM40,000 ransom, he was let off with a warning: “Don’t look for trouble.”
His experience was echoed by a 29-year-old single mother who was desperate after losing her job due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said a Malaysian agent took her to Thailand, then to Mae Sot and KK Garden. She escaped more than three months later after pleading for her life and paying a ransom.