PETALING JAYA: Eighteen people who were allegedly trafficked and exploited at an oil palm plantation in Pengkalan Hulu say they were made to work 12-hour shifts and paid next to nothing despite promises of a steady salary.
According to The Star daily, the victims, including five children, were lured to the isolated plantation, accessible only by four-wheel drive along dirt roads. There, they told police, they were made to work long hours with the children forced to carry the harvested fruits.
Although they were paid, they said the management deducted excessive amounts of money for every food item they received, sometimes leaving them with only RM100 at the end of the month.
“We were promised a steady income but once we got our salaries, the management would give excuses by saying that we told them to get so many things and they were at a loss,” Jag, 29, was quoted as saying.
Not even the children were spared, the victims added. They told police that a two-year-old was given only teh O as the parents were afraid to ask for milk, The Star said.
According to Jag, who arrived at the plantation with his wife and two children in 2015, all 18 victims were forced to share a building smaller than a low-cost house.
Jag is from Bahau, Negri Sembilan. The report did not say whether all 18 were Malaysians.
“We left our hometown, thinking that our life would turn around but it only got worse.
“We were threatened if we asked about our salary. They even took away our identity cards because they were afraid we would run away,” he was reported as saying.
The victims were rescued when police raided the estate during a midnight operation. A couple, believed to be managing the plantation, were detained and placed under remand until March 3, The Star said.
The 43-year-old man and 24-year-old woman are also believed to have acted as middlemen for the workers.