I was enslaved in Johor, Punjabi worker claims


AMRITSAR: More bad publicity for Malaysia: A Punjabi who came to Malaysia to work claims he was treated like a slave and even tortured.

According to a report in the Times of India, Ishak Masih, a tailor, had contacted an agent in Amritsar, saying he wanted to work overseas as a tailor to ensure his three children had a bright future.

He was sent to Malaysia, but instead of getting work as a tailor, he was sent to Johor to work as a farm hand.

For about nine months, the report says, he was “treated like a slave”, and forced to work more than 16 hours a day, “leaving him injured and mentally traumatised”.

He told the Times of India that he had paid around Rs 1.25 lakh (RM7,712) to the travel agent.

“I was interested in going to England, but my travel agent found me a job in Malaysia which I couldn’t resist. I thought it will be the first job abroad, and then I can go to another country,” he said.

He had left for Malaysia in December 2015.

The Times of India report said Ishak was reluctant to speak about his ordeal there.

However, Suneet Kochhar, the chairman of Madad Charitable Foundation, the NGO that helped bring him back, was quoted as saying Ishak had sent them messages alleging he was “being tortured, made to work for longer hours in the fields and wasn’t even paid”.

Kochhar said Ishak informed them that he was sick and didn’t know anyone in Johor Bahru who could help him.

“We took up his case. Our team investigated and verified the facts and found that he had borrowed money for going abroad,” Kochhar said. The NGO sent him an air ticket to return to India.

The report did not say how he managed to get the ticket or escape his employer.

Kochar said the NGO got involved after one of Ishak’s friends approached it.