Malaysian victim of human trafficking dies in northern Thailand

Photo via fotoBERNAMA

A Malaysian couple travelled to Thailand on Tuesday to look for their son but found out that he died at Mae Sot Hospital in Tak province, northern Thailand, on May 11. The 23 year old man is believed to have fallen victim to a job scam and trafficked to Myanmar. The hospital said Zhan had been “abused.”

Zhan Feng, from Malaysia, travelled to Thailand to meet a friend he met on social media in January. He told his parents, 50 year old Chee Kong and 45 year old Ipoh Perak, that he would be back in Malaysia for his mother’s birthday. When he didn’t show up, Chee filed a missing person report for his son two days later on February 7.

Chee and Ipoh received a call from Zhan on March 31. Zhan told them he was in Mae Sot in Tak province in and needed 650,000 baht (RM80,000) for medical treatment. Chee and Ipoh said the phone call sounded as if Zhan was being monitored or threatened. They believed he fell victim to a job scam and filed a police report on April 2.

The hospital told Zhan’s parents that Zhan was admitted to Mae Sot hospital on April 11 under a fake name and fake passport number. The doctors told Zhan’s parents they believed Zhan had been taken to Myawaddy, across the border in Myanmar, and forced to work by a human trafficking gang. The doctors said he had been “abused.”

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Zhan was admitted to the ICU and spent one month in hospital before he died on May 11. However, because Zhan entered the hospital under a fake identity, the Malaysian embassy was not able to contact his family while he was ill or inform them of his death.

Having not heard from Zhan in months, his parents travelled to Thailand on August 30 to look for their son in the hopes of taking him back to Malaysia for medical treatment, which is when they found out that Zhan had died.

An NGO arranged for Zhan to be buried at a cemetery in Sri Racha province after his death. Zhan’s parents wanted to take his ashes back to Malaysia but were told they needed to pay the remaining 325,000 baht (RM40,000) of Zhan’s hospital bill before gaining access to his death certificate and remains.

A fundraising campaign was launched on Friday to help Zhan’s parents pay the bill. In 22 hours, donations had already exceeded the fundraising target and the bill was settled today.

Zhan’s parents hope to have their son cremated this week and take his ashes home to Malaysia by Thursday.

Chee and Ipoh hope Zhan’s story will act as a cautionary tale to youngsters to not fall for job scams.

SOURCE: The Star

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.