A Cambodian woman working at a garment factory in Malaysia has been arrested and detained in prison for nearly one month since her visa was revoked after she failed a mandatory annual health test, according to a legal aid organisation.
According to the Community Legal Education Center, worker Sry Ratha arrived in Batu Pahat, Malaysia, in July 2011 with a visa permitting her to work at Honsin Apparel Sdn Bhd, where she was employed until she was detained on September 9 this year.
After failing an annual health test – for reasons that remain unclear because she was never provided with any documentation – Ratha’s visa was revoked before she had a chance to make arrangements to return to Cambodia.
When she visited Malaysian authorities with her employers to request documents to travel home, she was immediately arrested.
The very fact that she had requested such documents clearly demonstrated “that she had no intention to break the law by remaining in Malaysia”, said a CLEC statement.
Program officer Huy Pichsovann expressed concern yesterday over Ratha’s case, saying she was healthy when she left Cambodia and didn’t seem to have any communicable disease that would necessitate detention or deportation.
“Her employer must return her on time if she fails a health check, but they kept her until her visa was cancelled. This is not her fault, the factory owner must be held responsible for this case,” Pichsovann said.
In its statement, CLEC also called on the Cambodian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Malaysian Department of Immigration to release Ratha immediately, calling the situation “a further example of how the respective governments have failed to put in place the proper safeguards to ensure safe employment for Cambodians in Malaysia”.
Koy Kuong, spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said yesterday the ministry was aware of the case and investigating.
“This morning, I just got a letter from [CLEC], and now our embassy in Kuala Lumpur is investigating her case so she can return home,” Kuong said.