Police rescue 23 Cambodians from labour exploitation at ketum farm

Zuliaty Zulkiffli

PADANG TERAP: Police rescued 23 Cambodians including three children, from alleged labour exploitation, in a raid conducted in Kampung Lamdin, Naka, here yesterday night. State Criminal Investigation Department (CID) chief SAC Mior Farid Alatrash Wahid said the 12.15am operation was conducted by members of the ATIPSOM D9 task force led by ASP Saudi Abdul Rahman from the state police headquarters’ CID and assisted by Padang Terap CID. Mior said the team found 11 men and nine women aged 25 to their 30s, as well two boys and a girl aged between five and 10, during the raid on two estate houses there. “Following this, we also arrested a local man aged 46 who was believed to be the victims’ employer and checks revealed that he has a criminal record for offences under the Poisons Act. “Preliminary investigation showed the man employed the victims to work to harvest ketum leaves and did not possess any legit permits or documents,” he said in a statement today. Mior Farid said further inspection led to the discovery of three canopies erected at the site to collect ketum leaves found in 205 packages weighed 1,025kg. It is understood that the suspect raked in up to RM60,000 in monthly sales of ketum leaves. “We found the suspect was involved in the planting of ketum trees and hired foreigners to harvest the leaves sold for profit without legit documents. “There were elements of exploitation and forced labour, an offence under Section 15 of Anti-trafficking in Persons and Anti-smuggling of

Migrants Act 2007 (Act 670). “Investigation is also being carried out under Section 30(3) of Poisons Act 1952,” he said. It is learnt that none of the workers understood local languages and laws, making them easy targets for exploitation. Police also seized ketum leaves worth RM20,000. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd