Migrant workers stranded in Malaysia plead to return

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Some Cambodian migrant workers are stuck in Malaysia after their flights were cancelled and finding work to survive has proven difficult. Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia

Some Cambodian migrant workers stuck in Malaysia after flights were cancelled in April said they received some support from the Cambodian embassy, but they are looking forward to returning home because work is scarce.

Ham Saly from Kampong Cham told The Post on Thursday that he spent more than MYR 1,000 ($230) in April to buy a ticket home but his flight was cancelled.

He then returned to Kelantan state with five fellow Cambodians. He said he lost his job as a construction worker and now does whatever job possible just to survive.

“I want to return to Cambodia, but now I am not allowed. I don’t know what to do now besides looking for any small job I can find. When I am allowed to go back, I will just go,” he said.

He said he was given financial support of about $90 by the Cambodian embassy in Malaysia. Some other Cambodians also gave him some money to survive.

He said a lot of people had flocked to the Kuala Lumpur International Airport in April to head home. Some were stranded but received help from the embassy, while those who were from nearby states returned to look for jobs and wait for information from it.

Toulors Mansort, also a native of Kampong Cham, said he had been in Malaysia for three years. After working in construction for some time, he decided to stop and chose to sell drinking water at construction sites. But he has been jobless for four months now.

He said on Wednesday, he received about 10kg of rice, noodles and canned fish from the embassy, which he could eat for a week.

He said he was looking forward to information from the embassy about when he could return to Cambodia.

“Until now, I don’t hear anything, but I really want to go back home because staying here I have to spend a lot, such as for electricity and water. Now, I am jobless since all jobs are closed,” he said.

The Cambodian embassy in Malaysia could not be reached for comment on Thursday on how many nationals were stranded.

On Monday it issued a press statement denying accusations from some migrant workers that it had not helped them.

The embassy said it sent a diplomatic note to Malaysian Airlines to organise a flight to Cambodia and requested that the Malaysian Ministry of Foreign Affairs allow special flights during the restriction period.

But the embassy had not received a response from the airline. So, the date of a flight depends on the airline, the embassy said.

The embassy said it had given assistance to more than 1,600 people across Malaysia.

On Wednesday, Cambodia eased its entry restriction for its nationals. Prime Minister Hun Sen said Cambodians abroad could return to the Kingdom without a health certificate specifying that they were Covid-19 free.

The measure was revised days after the Ministry of Health said all Cambodians and foreigners entering Cambodia must have a health certificate.

But Hun Sen said returning Cambodians must have their health checked, tested for Covid-19 and be quarantined for 14 days before being allowed to reunite with their families.