A Cambodian fisherman was repatriated yesterday after being rescued at sea in Malaysian waters, where he had been adrift alone for a day after jumping overboard to escape what he said was an attempted murder aboard a Thai fishing vessel.
Mao Sovanda, an international liaison officer with Singapore’s Information Fusion Centre, a multinational maritime security information centre, said yesterday that the victim, Voeun Von, 36, had jumped into the sea on May 9 to escape from seven Cambodian crewmates and six Thais who were allegedly trying to kill him.
Von was rescued the following day by Brunei naval officials who were en route to Singapore for a joint maritime exercise, he added.
“We interviewed [the victim] and he said that he had no choice but to jump into the sea, [in order to] flee from the attempted murder by colleagues with samurai swords,” Sovanda said.
“Those colleagues always threatened to kill him, so he decided to leave without knowing if he would be rescued.”
Sovanda added that the victim’s colleagues were following the orders of a Cambodian broker named only as “Kouk”, who allegedly had an argument with Von over money.
“Before Khmer New Year, Voeun Von called home to tell his mother he would send 20,000 Thai baht [about $575] to her via Kouk, but he later learned that Kouk only gave his mother 10,000 Thai baht, so he got angry,” Sovanda said. “They had an argument after Khmer New Year, so Kouk tried to incite the colleagues on the same boat to kill him.”
Reached by phone yesterday, Von confirmed his story, adding that he never had any conflicts with his colleagues, but “they only listened to Kouk”.
He claimed that not only had he overheard his colleagues plotting to kill him on multiple occasions, he had been openly threatened as well.
“One day I was sleeping on the upper bunk, I overheard my colleagues sleeping on the lower bunks discuss about how to kill me,” Von said.
“They also said ‘We must kill him before he arrives at the shore’ openly,” he said.
Keam Sarath, a consultant to the Cambodian Embassy in Singapore, said that he reported the incident to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs but declined to comment further.
Spokesman for the ministry Chum Sounry could not be reached yesterday.
According to Sovanda, Cambodian Navy Commander Tea Vinh will be requesting assistance from the Thai navy in locating the alleged perpetrators.