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Maid’s cause of death sparks investigation

Maid’s cause of death sparks investigation

Government authorities are investigating the death of a migrant domestic worker in Malaysia after her family and rights groups raised questions about the stated cause of death from a lung infection, a relative of the deceased woman said yesterday.

Na Rith, 42, said his cousin Ouk Sakan’s family “panicked” when they heard she had died on November 6. “I didn’t believe it until our family saw her dead [body] directly by their own eyes,” he said.

In the two years Ouk Sakan had worked in Malaysia after being sent there by the company VC Manpower, they hadn’t received a cent of her salary and had heard from her just once over the phone for about five minutes before she hung up, Na Rith said. “We did not know the exact situation and how bad it was. We complained to the Cambodian police to investigate and help to intervene to send the body back to her homeland,” he said.

He did not believe a report from VC Manpower’s partner company in Malaysia that stated she had died from a lung infection, because his cousin had been completely healthy.  

VC Manpower could not be reached for comment.

Huy Pich Sovann, a program officer at the Cambodian Legal Education Centre, said Ouk Sakan’s employer had written in a statement that she was healthy.

“This case has irregularities because the employer said she was healthy and had no illness, but the doctor said she died by a lung infection,” he said.

VC Manpower, the deceased woman’s family and police from the Ministry of Interior’s anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, met last week to discuss the repatriation of her body, Huy Pich Sovann said.

“The police have asked the recruitment agency to clarify when the family of the victim will receive her salary because she worked in Malaysia for the last two years,” he said.

Chiv Phally, deputy director of the anti-human trafficking and juvenile protection department, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID BOYLE

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