A prominent Muslim community leader under fire for his role in recruiting an underage maid to work in Saudi Arabia 12 years ago has been terminated from his government position, according to a copy of a royal decree released yesterday – the same day that a rival Muslim community leader posted claims that he had located a second maid who had been trafficked to the gulf country.
The decree, signed by Cambodia’s acting head of state and Senate President Say Chhum on Friday, does not give a reason for firing Ministry of Social Affairs Secretary of State Ahmad Yahya.
Yahya has been in the spotlight since it emerged that Sos Rotors, a 28-year-old Cham Muslim maid who was stranded in Saudi Arabia for 12 years, had been sent there by his recruiting company.
Yahya yesterday said he did not know why he was being fired. “I don’t want to find out [the reason],” Yahya said. “Find out for what? Whatever I did, I know myself. Between me and God, I know everything.”
He has repeatedly denied that he knew Rotors was underage at the time.
Rotors was repatriated to Cambodia last month with the help of Labour Ministry Secretary of State Othsman Hassan, who claimed on Facebook yesterday that he had found a second maid who had been sent to work in Saudi Arabia by Yahya’s now-defunct recruiting company.
In the post, Hassan claims that the maid’s name is Eng Pov and that she was recruited more than 13 years ago.
“I am working to contact the Ministry of Labour in Saudi Arabia to help secure her return to Cambodia and to sue the employer that exploits the labour of Cambodians,” he wrote.
Hassan has come under scrutiny for his own family’s involvement in a recruiting agency while he serves as a labour official. Reached yesterday, he said “I’m in a meeting” and hung up.
Minister of Social Affairs Touch Channy declined to comment on the firing, saying only that it was a private matter. Interior Ministry anti-trafficking official Chou Bun Eng said she had not heard of the second alleged maid but said that if the accusation was true, Yahya’s actions were likely illegal.
“During that period, Cambodia had no agreement with Saudi Arabia to send maids to work in Saudi Arabia,” she said. “So the company that recruited people to work in Saudi Arabia is illegal.”
However, Eng said that she cannot start an investigation into Yahya until a victim comes forward.