Three M'sians held captive in Papua New Guinea return home

Qishin Tariq in Kuala Lumpur/The Star

Kuala Lumpur (The Star/ANN) - It was a tearful reunion for Remban Mawang and his daughter Rose after he had been held at logging camp in Papua New Guinea for nearly three weeks.

Remban was reunited with his daughter at the Umno Youth community complaints bureau in Solaris Dutamas.

Remban along with fellow Malaysians from the state of Sarawak, Jeri Ebet and his son Richie, were held in isolation for 17 days since April 20 at the camp in Kimbe, Papua New Guinea.

"We were told to stay indoors and there were guards outside armed with parang," Remban said.

"The amenities there were crude and they barely fed us, but we managed to survive off the tapioca and palm fruits we found on the compound.

"We had no idea why we were being held.

As we weren't allowed to work, the company did not send money back to our families either," said Remban.

The three Sarawakians went to Papua New Guinea last December after being offered lucrative jobs in the logging industry there by middlemen in Miri.

The middlemen said they would pay each of the men's families 1,500 ringgit (US$501) a month.

When the payment was not made to Remban's family in April, his daughter Rose suspected something amiss and lodged a report with the police and the complaints bureau on May 4.

"The middlemen had sent Remban and his friends abroad without a work permit, effectively making them illegal immigrants," said bureau chairman Datuk Khairun Aseh.

The bureau contacted the Malaysian High Commission in Papua New Guinea for assistance to locate the men and negotiate their release.

"After discussions between the high commission and the logging company, the three men were sent home via Singapore on May 7," said Khairun.

The high commission was still looking for other six Sarawakians who were reported missing in the country.

However, it faced difficulties locating them as they had no contact and information on their whereabouts.