Vietnamese sailors stranded since MCO to be flown home

The Vietnamese ship stranded in Malaysian waters for the past few months. (NUSPM pic)

PETALING JAYA: A crew of 12 Vietnamese sailors stranded in Malaysian waters since the movement control order (MCO) came into effect will soon be able to return to their home country after spending months at sea.

The Vietnamese embassy in Kuala Lumpur said it had been able to get in touch with the captain of the ship, Luong Quyet, about the crew’s situation and needs.

Linh Nguyen, a spokesman for the embassy, told FMT that they were working with the authorities in Vietnam to arrange a flight for the 12 sailors.

“While waiting for their flight, they should remain on board to prevent the vessel from being sunk.”

Adding that the embassy would continue supplying them with essentials, he said the sailors themselves had said they needed to stay on the ship in the meantime.

He said the embassy had obtained information on the crew in early June, after the sailors reached out through the embassy’s hotline number. He said the embassy then began working on channelling food and supplies to the ship.

“A representative of the Vietnam community communication group helped the embassy deliver money, food and essentials to the crew,” he added.

The crew, which had been stranded in Malaysian waters since mid-March with food and supplies running low, eventually resorted to painting distress messages on their ship’s hull in order to ask for help.

“Help us. No food. No salary,” read the painted message on the ship, Viet Tin 01.

The National Union of Seafarers of Peninsular Malaysia had urged the Vietnamese government to repatriate its citizens, adding that it was obligated to ensure the well-being of the sailors as it was a signatory to the Maritime Labour Convention.

It said the vessel had been abandoned by its owner since mid-March, leaving the crew with no fuel or power. It also said the lack of lights onboard made it a navigational hazard.

Meanwhile, a migrant rights NGO called on the authorities to investigate those linked to the ship and to punish the companies responsible for abandoning the sailors.

North-South Initiative director Adrian Pereira said being stranded at sea for months endangered the sailors’ lives and mental health, adding that they should not be punished for the mistakes of the business owners.

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