Friday, January 12, 2007

Firm dismayed by detention of workers (Star)

Firm dismayed by detention of workers

KUANTAN: A landscape company spent six harrowing days trying to get its legal foreign workers out of a detention camp allegedly because of a Rela member’s bad mood.

The six foreign workers, all with legal travel and work documents, were whisked out of their quarters in a resort in Cherating in the wee hours of the morning on Dec 28 last year when Rela members “literally broke into their chalet and ordered them out.”

Such incidents are normally settled at a police station with employers producing the original documents.

Despite getting their workers back from the Ajil detention camp on Jan 2, the employers, brothers Tang Hui Han and Tang Hui Ku, were annoyed over the attitude of a Rela member identified only as Mat Ali.

In relating the incident at Wisma MCA in Jalan Bukit Ubi here, the two brothers said they received an SOS call from one of the workers, whom they had furnished with a cellphone on Dec 28.

Hui Han, 30, said they frantically searched for their workers in Cherating and contacted both the Kuantan district police headquarters and Beserah police station but were told their workers were not held there.

“Luckily, we decided to stop at the Beserah police station where we spotted our workers alighting from a lorry.

“We talked to the Rela members who headed the operations but they were mostly uncooperative.

“We continued to question them and finally one of them gave us the leader’s name and that he was not in a good mood,” he said.

Hui Han said he then approached Mat Ali and produced the passports and working permits for his perusal.

“To my surprise, the man shouted the word bodoh at me and pushed my brother Hui Ku towards his car.

“He then told us to get the workers at the Ajil detention camp.

“He refused to look at the documents as according to him, a police report had been made,” he said.

Perplexed by the situation, Hui Han waited until the Immigration Department office opened and spent the next two days trying to secure the release of the workers.

“The irony of the whole thing is that our workers were placed in Cherating as we had secured a big landscaping contract.

“They had been working there for two months without any problem and even the Immigration Department had been informed of their presence in Cherating,” he added.

He also questioned the purpose of the raid by more than 20 Rela members without the presence of police and Immigration officers.

“Just because he was in bad mood, was it proper for him to detain six workers in the wee hours of the morning?” he asked.

“Furthermore, he refused to acknowledge us as the employer despite having produced proper legal documents to secure their release,” Hui Han said.

The brothers, who run the Rasa Sayang florist and nursery centre in Jalan Teluk Sisek, took the matter to the attention of Kuantan MP Datuk Fu Ah Kiow, who asked Teruntum assemblyman Datuk Ti Lian Ker to resolve the issue.

They lodged a police report over the incident on Dec 30, expressing dissatisfaction over the manner of the Rela officer.

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