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Embassy investigates death

Cambodian embassy officials in Malaysia are investigating the death of a Cambodian domestic worker earlier this month and plan to interview neighbours of her former employer, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said yesterday.

Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday that embassy officials had been dispatched to Penang province to investigate the cause of woman’s death, following allegations made last week that she was abused.

“We are seeking witnesses, especially from the neighbours at the house where she was working,” he said. Malaysian police were cooperating with the Cambodian embassy to look into the death, he added.

The deceased woman’s aunt, Sorn Chanthy, 38, from Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district, said yesterday she did not believe her 19-year-old niece, Choy Pich, had died from pneumonia on July 17 as reported by labour recruitment firm AP TSE & C Cambodia Resource Co Ltd.

A medical check conducted before her niece left for Malaysia in September last year, she said, gave her a clean bill of health and the young woman had never previously suffered from any diseases.

“I asked the company not to cremate her body and wanted them to send the body to Cambodia and the company has agreed,” she said.

Concerns were raised about the maid’s death after an email was sent to news aggregation site Khmerization by a person familiar with the situation.  

The email alleging abuse referred to the date of death, TSE and the area of Malaysia in which Choy Pich died but incorrectly identified the victim’s name and age. Nevertheless, it sparked rights groups and politicians to call for an investigation into the worker’s death. It also fuelled Sorn Chanthy’s suspicions that abuse, not disease, was the cause of her niece’s demise.

Seng Sithichey, president of AP TSE & C, yesterday reiterated his claim that a medical certificate from Malaysia showed Choy Pich had died from pneumonia and said he was unsure what to do with her body, which would be expensive to repatriate.

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