Saturday, August 11, 2007

MORE PICS – NBC Dramatic Rescue of Pilipino Lannie from Malaysia Underground Human Trafficking - Prostitution; RM200000 8-yr “Contract” for Release

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UPDATE: Aug 14 07;
Tuesday August 14, 2007; STAR
Doc shuts down business of supplying singers to hotels;

Dr Ng: ‘I was questioned by Bukit Aman police over the allegation earlier this year and was cleared of any wrongdoing’

PENANG: Gynaecologist Dr Ng Kok Kwang, who was accused of being a human trafficker in an NBC documentary, shut down his business of supplying singers to local hotels early this year.

“It was too much of a headache so I decided to part ways with my partner in February. Moreover, we were not making any money from the business venture which started in April 2006. “Microphones worth RM6,000 and RM500 were stolen from us by some Filipinos we brought in to sing in hotels here,” he said yesterday. Dr Ng, 45, said one of them even framed him by telling Philippines Embassy officials in Kuala Lumpur that a group of them was forcibly held at a Sungai Dua apartment.

“These Filipinos were never held against their will. They were given the freedom to come and go as they please. A few of them were even given the apartment keys. “I was questioned by Bukit Aman police and Interpol over the allegation earlier this year and was cleared of any wrongdoing,” he said. Dr Ng said he and his partner have been more than fair to the Filipinos, adding that they were supposed to earn RM700 a month as stated in their contract but were paid RM1,000 instead. “Several of them were also given salary advances of up to RM1,000 to help them settle in,” he said. On the allegations by Lannie Erecito that she was held against her will, Dr Ng said she had wanted to leave after a month but he told her that she owed him and his partner US$1,200 (RM4,170).

“That amount was actually the expenses spent to bring her to Penang. She was provided with free food and board while she was here,” he said. Dr Ng said NBC’s Dateline, which was shown in the US on April 8 (Wrong Date, by Star, August 8 2007), had damaged his reputation and he was considering legal action. “The way the NBC correspondent Chris Hansen conducted his interview was quite unprofessional. He ‘waylaid’ me outside my clinic and had his crew film me from afar without my knowledge,” he said. Meanwhile, Deputy Information Minister Datuk Seri Chia Kwang Chye said NBC should give equal airtime to Dr Ng to tell his side of the story.

= = == = ==Sunday STAR; August 12, 2007; ‘I want apology from NBC’

PENANG: A gynaecologist here is demanding an apology from NBC over a documentary in which he was portrayed as a bad guy and has thus damaged his reputation. Dr Ng Kok Kwang, 45, said he wanted to clear his name as the documentary linked him to an alleged human trafficking case involving a Filipina, Lannie Erecito, 22. He said NBC's Dateline had affected his reputation and he demanded an apology, failing which legal action would be taken against the station. “I did not commit any wrongdoing and I was very cooperative and helpful to the police and the TV crew when they came to interview me late last year.
I was shocked when my friends in the United States and patients here called me to tell me about the damaging report. “I watched the documentary and found that a lot of things that I told them had been censored, leaving only the damaging part,” he said in his clinic at Burmah Road here yesterday. The case came to light when Erecito 's uncle, Troop Edmonds, a former marine, and a friend, Jerry Howe – said to be a retired FBI agent – decided to mount a “rescue” operation by coming here sometime last year following a phone call from her.

Erecito is said to have returned home to the Philippines with the two men. However, The Star, quoting sources, reported yesterday that there was no evidence to show that the Filipino singer had been held against her will while she was in Penang.

Dr Ng, who has been a gynaecologist for 11 years, said he brought Erecito to Penang to sing at one of the hotels last October but she wanted to quit a month later. “I told her that she owed me and my business partner Kenny Kang about US$1,200 (RM4,100) for the expenses we spent to bring her to Penang. Lannie was among 16 Filipino singers whom we brought to Penang to sing at hotels.
“They were paid RM700 monthly as promised in the contract, provided free food, accommodation and transportation and equipment to practice. “Lannie agreed to pay and told me that she would call her auntie, who is Edmonds' wife, in the United States. However, she disappeared after that without paying us the money. “Sometime late last year, the police asked me to go to the police station where I met Lannie, her uncle, his friend and the TV crew,” he said. Dr Ng added that it was then that he knew about the allegation and gave his statement to the police, complete with proof like bills and tickets.

= = = == = ==UPDATE: 11th Aug 07

= = == from STAR, Saturday August 11, 2007;

No proof singer held against her will; By BERNARD SEE

PENANG: There was no evidence to show that the Filipino singer featured in a recent NBC documentary was held against her will while she worked here. Lannie Erecito, 22, who performed with a band at a hotel last year, was said to be having problems at work, and often skipped practice sessions. It is learnt that this led to her agent holding back her salary but she was still “free” to do as she pleased. Sources said had she been held against her will, she would not have been able to telephone her uncle, Troop Edmonds, in the United States. “She apparently had a Filipino boyfriend whom she preferred to be with rather than earning a proper salary. She must have been angry with her agent and made up the story of being held against her will,” the sources said.

According to NBC’s Dateline, Edmonds, a former marine, and a friend Jerry Howe, a retired FBI agent, decided to mount a “rescue” operation by coming here sometime last year. The sources said they met then state deputy CID chief Supt Razali Basri and told him they had information where Lannie was being “held”. A police team was immediately sent to raid an apartment in Sungai Dua here but no one was in.

The sources said that when the agent came to know about the two Americans looking for Lannie, he took her to the Georgetown police headquarters in Jalan Patani the next day and reunited her with them. The NBC documentary transcript stated that when asked by a police officer if she had been held captive, Lannie denied it, saying “everything” was fine. The sources said that had Lannie indicated in any way that she was being forcefully held, the police officer would have arrested her agent.

Lannie returned to the Philippines after the agent agreed to return her passport, they said. State police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Koh Hong Sun, when contacted last night, said he would order a thorough probe into the allegations highlighted by the documentary.= = == = == = =

ABOVE: Malaysiakini alert story (details H E R E by Subscription} of the Dramatic Rescue of the Filipino Lannie from the Clutches of Underground Human Trafficking Prostitution. A Doctor gynacologist is implicated in the Human Trafficking to "provide singers". BELOW: Lannie as seen in her passport

Lannie was a girl preyed on by human traffickers. But she had one thing going for her: two men who would stop at nothing to get her back
Following Transcript by NBC

This story aired on Aug. 8 07, under Dateline NBC

October 5, 2006.

"Troop" Edmonds (ABOVE, Uncle of Lannie) and his Philippine-born wife, Ravina, are at home in Oregon when they receive a panicked call from overseas.
Edmonds: I’m sitting there. I'm trying to watch a football game. And all of a sudden my wife's cell phone rings. My wife gets really upset.
On the other end on the line is their 22-year-old Filipino niece, Lannie Ejercito…
Edmonds: She was scared. Crying. And in total desperation.

Chris Hansen (ABOVE, NBC Correspondent): And what did she say?

Troop Edmonds:”Get me out of here!”
And then someone on the other end takes the phone away from Lannie.
Troop Edmonds: She said -- if you want your niece back, you have to send us $1,200 and we'll give you a bank account to send it to. And she hung up.
Chris Hansen: They wanted the money wired to this bank account. And did this strike you as a ransom demand?
Troop Edmonds: Yes.
It sounded like kidnappers. But all he knew for sure was that his niece was desperate.
Troop Edmonds: She wanted out of there. She didn't know what else to do so she called the only person on the planet that could possibly help her.
Troop and his wife had just finished putting Lannie through nursing school in the Philippines and thought, on balance, things were looking up.
Chris Hansen: How would you best describe her?
Troop Edmonds: Good-looking, you know. Got everything to live for. Lannie graduated, but then failed the national nursing exam, which meant her dream of coming to America to work as a nurse was on hold. Her desperation was palpable as the phone call continued. Lannie provided additional details which led her uncle to fear the worst.
Chris Hansen: What did you think Lannie had gotten herself into?
Troop Edmonds: I thought she was going to be ending up being raped and then put into a life of-- of prostitution.
In other words, he worried that his niece had fallen into the shadowy world of human trafficking, where many are lured by false promises to places thousands of miles from home and find themselves thrown into the sex trade. Troop Edmonds wasn't sure where Lannie was exactly or who she was with but it was clear she was in trouble.
Her family knew she'd been offered a job as a hotel singer in Malaysia -- 1500 miles away from her home in the Philippines.

ABOVE & BELOW: one of the "hotel" shown by NBC Video
Filipino singer had been held against her will while she was in Penang.
But when she got to Malaysia, her passport was taken and she was told to sign an 8-year "contract" meaning she would be in Malaysia, against her will, until she was 30.
Lannie had been trafficked.

Ambassador Lagon:(ABOVE) In essence, it's slavery.
Ambassador Mark Lagon says human trafficking is now one of the the fastest growing forms of international organized crime.
Ambassador Lagon: Analysts in the U.S. government estimate there are between 500,000 and 1.1 million people who are trafficked across borders from country to country.That's every year. Lagon, who leads U.S. efforts to combat human trafficking, says it's basically a bait and switch.
Ambassador Lagon: They're told,
"We can get you out of this awful economic situation you're in with better work, the conditions will be good, the pay will be good” and often times it turns out to be the most gross form of sexual exploitation.
And Filipinos like Lannie are a frequent target. There is no shortage of horror stories.
Anna: I work here as a prostitute. I lost my virginity here, and then I got sick. I want to go home. Please help me. Meet "Anna." Like Lannie, she was trafficked to Malaysia from the Philippines. Anna thought she was going to be a waitress, but when she arrived at this club in Malaysia she was told that servicing customers entailed going home with them. She was forced to sign an official-looking contract which spells out how much she owes her traffickers.
Anna: Air ticket, 500 ringgit. Cash advance, 1,600 ringgit.

ABOVE & BELOW: The tragic tale of ANNA, who was deceived and a Victim of the Human Traffickers

Experts call this "debt-bondage." Anna calls it a nightmare. On her first night in Malaysia, her virginity was sold for $80.
Anna: I can do nothing because my boss tells me I need -- I need to do that. If i did not do that, I cannot pay my debt. I will not -– I cannot go back to Philippines.
Locked inside an apartment above this club, she was forced to service a variety of customers, including Americans. Two months ago, the Philippine embassy in Malaysia rescued Anna. She is free now, but not well.
Anna: Maybe I have -- I'm afraid I have AIDS.
As for Lannie Ejercito, her uncle Troop Edmonds -- a decorated former Marine -- wasn't going to let that happen to his niece. His wife gave him his marching orders.

Troop Edmonds: She said, “You've got to get my niece. Get her. And don't come back without her.” That's my assignment.
= = == = =2
Troop Edmonds and his wife Ravina didn't know what was happening to their niece, Lannie Ejercito. But they knew she was in trouble. The pretty 22-year-old had taken what she thought was a legitimate job as a singer in Malaysia. But, in fact, she'd been lured in by human traffickers who were demanding a ransom to free her. She was being forced to sign an eight year contract.
Troop Edmonds: She was scared. She wanted out of there. She's stuck in a situation that she has no control over and she doesn't want to spend eight years of her life there.
As it began to dawn on them that Lannie could be in the hands of some pretty dangerous people, they tried redialing the number of the cell phone used to make the ransom call. Maybe they could get a fix on where she was. It didn't work.
Chris Hansen: You know she's in Malaysia.
Troop Edmonds: Uh-huh (affirm).
Chris Hansen: You've got a phone number that doesn't appear to be good.
Troop Edmonds: Right.
Chris Hansen: That's all you got.
Troop Edmonds: That's all I got. But then I call my friend Jerry up.

Jerry Howe, (ABOVE) who spent 26 years as an FBI special agent working everything from counterterrorism to organized crime to nearly 100 kidnappings? In fact, he worked the notorious Patty Hearst kidnapping case.
Jerry Howe: He said his niece had been kidnapped and he wanted to know if I could trace the phone number in any way.
Troop Edmonds: Jerry says, "Yup. No problem. When we going?" I go, "Oh no, not you, too." So he was going. Going to Asia, that is.
Whoever had Lannie probably never imagined what was headed their way as this pair of 60-somethings were about to launch an improbable rescue mission halfway across the globe.
Chris Hansen: Here you are, a retired agent. You've got your buddy Troop, and you guys just going to go over there and get her?
Jerry Howe: Basically. Everybody asks me for a plan. From having to write these scenarios for undercover operations for the FBI, they-- it's-- it's kind of like a waste of paper. It's a-- what you want to happen but never does.
Chris Hansen: So you guys were pretty much going to figure it out as you went along.
Jerry Howe: That's really the only way you can do it.
Having worked the Hearst case, Jerry was especially worried that Lannie's captors might brainwash her during the eight years she would be "under contract."
Chris Hansen: What does that say to you? Eight years?
Jerry Howe: They'll own her in eight years. I mean, psychologically she-- they-- they start immediately. So she is subservient to them. And after eight years, she'd be a robot.
A number of former CIA and FBI officials pitched in and supplied the pair with everything from handheld global positioning units to gyroscope-stabilized binoculars.
The plan -- to the extent there is one -- sounds pretty straightforward: zero in on Lannie's location, create a ruse to separate her from the traffickers, even kick in some doors if they have to
. Whatever it takes to get her out of Malaysia as quickly as possible.
Chris Hansen: What did you think the chances were of actually finding Lannie and freeing her?
Troop Edmonds: Maybe ten percent.
Chris Hansen: Ten percent.
Troop Edmonds: Yes. There's a chance. It wasn't hopeful.
After all, the men were traveling 8,000 miles from home to a country of 27 million people in hopes of finding one girl.
Troop Edmonds: I was just worried about the flight home without Lannie. Then breaking my wife's heart. She told me not to come back without her.
Chris Hansen: What made you apprehensive about going on this trip?
Troop Edmonds: You're dealing with bad people. And they all usually have guns. And they all-- and they're bad. I mean, really bad.
Finally, the mission is launched and we're invited along.
Because the two Americans don't know where Lannie is being held, they start in her hometown of Cebu in the southern Philippines.
In her home in this squatters' village, Lannie's mother tells the searchers how it all started.

In early October 2006, she accompanied her daughter to this church (ABOVE), where Lannie and 15 others were told to gather for their trip to Malaysia.
They were met by a woman named Rachel Sabal. She had recruited Lannie and the others, promising them high-paying jobs as singers in Malaysia. For Lannie's rescuers, it's the first big lead.
Jerry Howe: Lannie's mother recognizing and knowing who Rachel was, was the key.
Jerry and Troop pass the name to police who check travel records and quickly discover that a 'Rachel Sabal' has recently returned to the Philippines. It's a lucky break -- she's still nearby.

Detective Jacob Macabali: She just arrived from Kuala Lumpur four days ago.
Jerry and Troop ride along as detectives go looking for Rachel.
Detective Jacob Macabali: Well if there is a written complaint we can go and just--
Troop Edmonds: --arrest Rachel.

When they do find her, Rachel (ABOVE)is defiant, insisting that Lannie and the others went to Malaysia of their own free will and are being treated well. But the cops aren't buying it.
Troop Edmonds: They sweet-talked her and her father into the police station. And then they bilked her for information. And she was getting confident. She was pretty confident-

So confident is Rachel that she's done nothing wrong that she provides police with a crude map (ABOVE) showing where she claims Lannie and the 15 other Filipinos are living. It’s 1500 miles away, in the Malaysian city of Penang.

By this time, it's clear Rachel is in some hot water. She's given a crash course in Filipino law.
Officer: ...the recruitment and transportation of persons by others using violence or threat of violence...
Rachel calls her sister, who we learn is in Malaysia keeping watch over Lannie and the others.
Jerry and Troop discover that the number Rachel has dialed is the same one Lannie's captors used to make the ransom call.
Troop Edmonds: They had a district attorney-type thing who came and was going to try to check out everybody's story. And he went in and had one talk with her and he told us, "Book her. She's the most blatant human trafficker I've ever seen."

Troop Edmonds: And then they threw her in the clink (ABOVE) and she fell apart at the seams.
Rachel: (crying and screaming at the same time)

While this is all going on, Rachel's cell phone rings -- and you won't believe who's on the other end. It's Lannie.
But it's like she's a different person than the one who called Oregon in a panic only weeks earlier. She tells her mother things are fine in Malaysia and that she wants to stay. Her uncle Troop doesn’t believe it, fearful that someone else is putting those words in her mouth.
Troop Edmonds: I just told her, Lannie, we are coming for you. And we're coming now And as quickly as they arrived, Troop and Jerry depart the Philippines for Malaysia, unsure of Lannie's precise location.
= = == = = 3

It's been three weeks since Lannie Ejercito fell prey to a human trafficking network stretching from the Philippines to Malaysia. She's managed to make two calls to her family. During the first call she was in a panic, but the second time she called she was peculiarly calm. Was someone controlling her?
Jerry Howe: I felt everything she said has been orchestrated. She's been told to say what they want her to say.
Retired FBI agent Jerry Howe and Lannie's uncle, Troop Edmonds, are in Asia trying to find and free Lannie.
Flying into Malaysia, the pair knew the clock was ticking.
The arrest of Lannie's recruiter provided important leads but may also have given those holding Lannie a heads up.
Troop Edmonds: I'm worried, we've wasted so much time. They know we're coming. They're going to just be splitting and taking Lannie. We'll never find her. I mean, how we going to find her?

ABOVE: Taking MAS Flight to Penang from Philippines

Armed with a crude map that Rachel the recruiter drew for police, Jerry and Troop canvass a neighborhood near the university in Penang.

Lannie's rescuers are pointed to an apartment (ABOVE) on the top floor.

Jerry Howe: There were lots of shoes (ABOVE) outside the door. But the shoes didn't look like shoes that students would wear. So I felt that we had the right place. But he can't proceed further without help from the authorities, and that's a bit of a crapshoot. Unlike the Philippines, Malaysia hasn't always been the most hospitable toward America or Americans.
Troop Edmonds: The Filipino police said, "Troop and Jerry, you be real careful. That's a Muslim country over there and, you know, and you're American. And, you know."
Chris Hansen: You might not be welcome there? Is that what they were saying?
Troop Edmonds: Yeah. That's what they told me. They said, "We don't even like to go there." After two days of conducting their own investigation, the two Americans roll the dice and approach the Malaysian police.
Troop Edmonds: We just walk up. And we say, well, we'd like to talk to the supervisor. Somebody in charge.
Chris Hansen: And they don't know you're coming.
Troop Edmonds: Oh, no.
Chris Hansen: You don't have an appointment.
Troop Edmonds: No, we--
Chris Hansen: You don't have a contact name.
Troop Edmonds: We don't. No contact name.
Chris Hansen: No phone number.
Troop Edmonds: No.
Chris Hansen: Nothing.
Troop Edmonds: Nothing.
Chris Hansen: You just show up.
Troop Edmonds: Just show up.
They're taken to see a top police official who doesn't quite know what to make of the men or their mission.
Troop Edmonds: Here's these two-- looks like a couple of middle-aged losers, you know. I mean, it's like Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon stumbling across Asia. And here's this incredible story about we're looking for a young Asian girl who was lured into this human trafficking thing. And we're asking for their help. Whether out of sheer curiosity or a sense of duty, the police agree to send a team to the apartment.

Malaysian policeman: (bangs on door) (ABOVE) Hello? Hello?
The window is open, and there are still shoes out front -- all of which suggests someone is inside. But no one answers, and the police move in.

The place is empty.(ABOVE) And it seems whoever was living there left in a hurry.
Is Rachel's map bogus? Or are Troop and Jerry just too late?
Troop Edmonds: When they weren't there when we cased the place our hearts sank a little bit. I mean, a nerve-- I wouldn't say a little bit. A lot.
But then in sweeping the apartment the Malaysian police find something.

Jerry Howe: That's her! A picture of Lannie. Lannie had left behind a scrapbook (ABOVE).
Jerry Howe: It just flashed by me [and] I knew it was her. This one. Well, we're at the right place. Right place, wrong time. It looked like it had something to do with that phone call Lannie placed days earlier.
Jerry Howe: When we were in the Philippines Troop was actually able to talk to Lannie for a few minutes. And Troop announced that we were coming, which I may not have done as an FBI agent, but I understand as an uncle saying, "We're coming to get you." I'm sure they moved them because of that. The scrapbook is a hopeful sign. Troop wonders if Lannie has left it behind as a deliberate clue that she'd been there.
Troop Edmonds: The good thing is, it was proof that this-- they actually were here. So we got something to go on. And the bad part of it is-- is, you know, she's gone.
Chris Hansen: What was your worst fear at that point?
Troop Edmonds: Well, it was a-- I mean how do you find somebody in a country like Malaysia? I mean my god. But it wasn't just could they find her but would they find her before she was victimized?

Every year, the U.S. State Department ranks countries on their efforts against human trafficking. In its most recent report, Malaysia is at the bottom -- alongside North Korea, Iran and Sudan. The State Department says that human trafficking and the sex trade it fuels are rampant here. Yet in all of 2006, not a single trafficker was prosecuted.

Despite its reputation as a conservative, predominantly Muslim nation, Malaysia has a thriving sex industry. We went out with our cameras and met girls from half a dozen countries working as prostitutes.

Madame (ABOVE): Bring the girls who can speak English for you...
In this upscale karaoke bar, the madame literally paraded the girls before us.

ABOVE & BELOW: Lisa, Nadia, Maria?

Madame: Lisa, Nadia.
It's a world "Anna" knows only too well. She came to Malaysia for a waitressing job only to be told she had to work as a prostitute. She went to Malaysian immigration authorities for help.

Anna: I want them to help me -- to rescue me -- so I can go back Philippines.
But instead, she says, a top immigration official called her traffickers and then passed along some words of advice.

Anna: “Go back to work.”

Anna says some of the Malaysian police and immigration officials were actually clients of the clubs where she worked and helped themselves to the girls. Malaysian officials are notorious for turning a blind eye to trafficking. So much so that when victims like Anna show up looking for help, they are often brought up on immigration charges.

Troop and Jerry know they need to find Lannie and find her fast.
Chris Hansen: At this point she had been missing for three weeks?
Troop Edmonds: Yeah. Three weeks, that's about right.
Chris Hansen: That's a long time?
Troop Edmonds: Oh, yeah. I mean they could have already gone through the initiations of the prostitution thing and all that. But, you know, you still want to get her back.
= = == = =4

They'd come 8,000 miles to rescue her and watched as police raided an apartment where she may have been held captive.
But they were too late. Neighbors say a fleet of taxis arrived a couple days earlier and took Lannie Ejercito and fifteen other young people away. Lannie's uncle Troop and his friend, retired FBI agent Jerry Howe, asked cabbies if they remembered seeing Lannie or the others.
Troop Edmonds: This person. Two pictures of this person.
Taxi driver: This person? No, no.
They were desperate, even willing to consult a local faith healer with a reputation for finding missing persons.

Then -- finally -- a break. Word that Lannie has surfaced in of all places a police station. (ABOVE & BELOW)

ABOVE: Who was this officer who greeted them? Not Ishmael or C/Insp. Mohd Ismail (BELOW)?

They race over to see her. And Troop and Lannie are reunited behind closed doors.
Lannie: I've been waiting for you.
Troop Edmonds: Oh, I know. Your mother ... your mother is so worried. (Lannie's crying) So worried.

Troop Edmonds: As soon as I walked in that door she jumped up and she gave me this really strong hug.(ABOVE) And she was squeezing me hard. And she just wouldn't let me go. I thought Lannie was just going to go with us and that was it. And-- turns out that wasn't it.
The reunion is short-lived. Jerry and Troop discover that Lannie was brought to the police station by Kenny Kang, one of the people who has been holding her captive. Kang, who reportedly has ties to Chinese organized crime, may have brought her in to convince police she is not being held against her will. In fact, she's been saying all is well--she's fine.
Jerry Howe: Lannie had already given them a statement saying that Kang wasn't doing anything wrong. But--
Chris Hansen: And what was your problem with that statement?
Jerry Howe: Well, he was there.

The Malaysian police were interviewing Lannie with Kenny Kang (ABOVE) sitting right next to her. Jerry Howe, who's conducted hundreds of interviews during his 26 years in the FBI, is shocked that the lead detective failed to separate the victim from the victimizer.

Jerry Howe: And when I suggested that, it's like the light bulb went off in his head.(ABOVE) "Oh, yeah, that's a good idea." (laughter) And they'll move-- they moved him away from her so she should could speak. But she was still terrified.
Kang is moved to an adjoining room where he proceeds to make himself at home.
Chris Hansen: Did it appear to you that Kenny Kang had a preexisting relationship with some of the police officers?
Jerry Howe: Boy, did I-- I got that impression. I just--
Chris Hansen: And what gave you that impression?
Jerry Howe: Well, he's laughing. He's making phone calls. He's joking with the police officer that he's with. And we can see all this through the glass in the offices there. I was-
Chris Hansen: He was treating this as a minor inconvenience?
Jerry Howe: Right. Minor inconvenience. And thought he was going to leave.

But now, with Kang out of earshot (ABOVE), Lannie makes clear where she stands. She wants out. But that's easier said than done.
Chris Hansen: Who had the passport?
Jerry Howe: Kang. And he isn't about to give it back. Now her uncle's blood was beginning to boil. He wasn't leaving without the passport, and he wasn't the slightest bit afraid of a showdown with Kang, a reputed mobster.
Troop Edmonds: Do you have ... do you have the passport? Do you have her passport.
Kenny Kang: Yes, why?
Troop Edmonds: We want it. Mister Kang has her passport. So we need to get that. Like now. You know what a passport is?
Kenny Kang: Yes.
Troop Edmonds: I'm sure you do. We want it.
Kenny Kang: I'll talk to..
Troop Edmonds: No you're talking to me.
Ishmael: The passport I will...
Troop Edmonds: ...get it. OK.
Ishmael: I will get it. Not you.
Troop Edmonds: OK.
Chris Hansen: You were mad.
Troop Edmonds: Oh, I was really mad. And then when I looked in his eyes I saw this horrible thing. It was like-- not a chance am I going to give you the passport. It's like, "She's my property. And she's leaving this police station with me."
Although there's no evidence money changed hands, Lannie's frustrated rescuers start to suspect the worst: that the police are in Kang's pocket.

ABOVE: The passport was returned via the Police

Troop Edmonds: He paid that other bastard off! That's why he wanted back in there. He did not want to hand over the passport. He paid off that other guy.
Jerry Howe: We need to get the passport and get out of here.
Chris Hansen: Was there a point when you started to think, "Maybe we're not going to get this resolved, even here at the police department?"
Jerry Howe: When the incident happened with the passport, I was very worried at that point that we were all going to (laughter) end up in jail. And--
Chris Hansen: The whole group?
Jerry Howe: The whole (laughter) group of us, yeah.
And just when it seemed things couldn't get any stranger, in walks a man who describes himself as Kenny Kang's business partner, a gynecologist named Ng Kok Kwang.

Ng: I'm Dr. Ng.
Edmonds: Dr. Ng? Dr. Ng, a doctor?
Ng: Yeah.
The doctor says he has a side business supplying singers to work at various hotels and he insists he's not engaged in human trafficking.
Dr. Ng: I'm a professional, ok? I do not want to do any illegal things in terms of this, because that's going to affect my business. I'm making…
Troop Edmonds: Wait a minute, wait a minute, what are you talking about?
Dr. Ng: No no no, I'm just telling you I do not know why this all happen, this all have happened. We have never kidnapped her, I just want to make it clear to you.
Dr. Ng: We never hold them as prisoners, please
Jerry Howe: If you have their passports, they're prisoners.
Dr. Ng: No no, it's not like that, if they want to come to us and tell us they want to go home, they go home.

That's what he claims. But then he pulls something straight out of the human trafficking playbook, arguing that before Lannie and the others can go free they must first reimburse him for the money he says he spent transporting, housing and training them.

Dr. Ng: According to the contract they have signed, they have to pay 200,000
That translates to nearly $60,000 -- a sum so high it would take the average Filipino at least 20 years to pay it off. We asked to see that eight year contract Dr. Ng keeps talking about.

Dr. Ng: This is the contract we have with them. Oh, no, no. It's "P and C." Sorry. We can't give you a copy. It's private and confidential … If you want any document, I think I must discuss with my partner. I can't just release it like that all right?

Contract or no contract, Jerry and Troop make it clear they aren't about to give in.
Jerry Howe: Well, since you made a mistake and illegally recruited them, we'll just go, we'll just need to pick up her papers and leave and get out the police.
Dr. Ng: OK, OK, please, please, please, I have enough headache, too, OK. I do not want to…
Jerry Howe: You're busy, we're busy, we want to go home.
Finally, convinced Troop and Jerry mean business, Dr. Ng calls it a day. Lannie is free to leave with her passport. Also free to leave: Dr. Ng and his cohort Kenny Kang.
The police let them walk.
Chris Hansen: Now, you were out of the police station. But you were not out of the country.
Jerry Howe: That's true. And as much as I really wanted to go find the other girls, we felt that it was probably better to get her out before whatever organization Kang was associated with would come looking for us.
Chris Hansen: You weren't wasting any time?
Jerry Howe: No. No. Once we decided to go, we left in a hurry, yeah.
But they weren't home free. They still had to get out of Malaysia, steering clear of angry human traffickers and government officials who seemed to treat the traffickers with kid gloves.They wouldn't be safe until they reached the Philippines. But would they finally get the whole story from Lannie?

ABOVE & BELOW: The confrontation at the police station was genuine as both visitors were earing the official tags given by the guards

= = == = =5

Troop Edmonds and Jerry Howe succeed in freeing Lannie Ejercito and they return her to the Philippines for an emotional reunion with her family.
It was only when Lannie reached the Philippines that she confirmed the truth of her ordeal. She says her trafficker's promise of a singing job was an empty one.
Chris Hansen: They took your passport. They locked you in an apartment. You never got an audition?

Lannie (ABOVE, after arriving home): Yeah.
Chris Hansen: Were you a prisoner?
Lannie: Yeah, we were a prisoner
She said she only pretended everything was fine in front of the police and on the phone to her parents for one reason: self-preservation.
Lannie: I'm afraid they're going to do something bad at me. So have no choice then.
Chris Hansen: Where do you think you'd be today if your uncle and Jerry hadn't rescued you?
Lannie: That's a big problem. I really don't know.
Chris Hansen: Do you think you could have ended up in jail?
Lannie: Yeah.
Chris Hansen: Or still locked in that apartment?
Lannie: Yeah.
Although she was relieved to be rescued, she was scared for those she left behind: 15 other young trafficking victims.
As far as she knew, they were still in the hands of Dr Ng and Kenny Kang, who we last saw leaving the police station, apparently with no trafficking charges having been filed against them.
Chris Hansen: Dr. Ng? Chris Hansen, how are you? Sir?
And when we went back to Malaysia to ask him about what Lannie told us, there he was, still free and still practicing medicine.
Chris Hansen
: What is a doctor -- a gynecologist -- doing getting involved in this sort of business?

Dr. Ng: Like I told you, it is an investment. I let my friend deal with all of that.
Chris Hansen: And your friend is who?
Dr. Ng: Mr. Kenny
Chris Hansen: Kenny Kang.
Dr. Ng: Yeah yeah
So what about those eight year contracts which Dr. Ng and Kenny Kang pressured Lannie and the others to sign? How could they possibly be on the level?
Chris Hansen: So, you became a doctor in eight years. Are you saying it takes eight years to become a singer?

Dr. Ng: The eight years is not the training part of it. What I am trying to tell you...we have calculated that in order to get back the investment money we put we have to have an eight years contract. Because we bring them in fresh.

Dr. Ng insists Lannie owes him money for training he admits she never received and for housing, which Lannie says amounted to being locked up for weeks on end.
Chris Hansen: We are being told that if these girls don't get jobs singing they are threatened with being booked. Booked. Sent out as a prostitute.
Dr. Ng: No.
Chris Hansen: No?
Dr. Ng: I have shown my agreement last time that no prostitution is involved.
Chris Hansen: You may put that in there to protect yourself but that is not what exactly we are being told doctor.
Dr. Ng: Ahhh, come on! If I want to get involved in illegal things I don't have to become a doctor all right? I am a gynecologist. I am a gynecologist, ok? I don't have to get involved in this kind of illegal thing to make money.

But Lannie isn't the only one accusing him of wrong-doing.
Earlier this year, Philippine officials staged a dramatic late-night operation in Malaysia and freed the 15 others who Dr. Ng and his partner, Kenny Kang, kept locked up for over three months. We sat down with some of them (BELOW).

Chris Hansen: So what happened after Lannie left the apartment?
Male voice: Kenny started threatening us.
Chris Hansen: Kenny started threatening you?
Male voice: Yeah.
Female voice: They said when we can't pass the audition, they will send us to prostitution.
Chris Hansen: To prostitution?
Female voice: Yeah.
Chris Hansen: Kenny Kang said this to you?
Male voice: Yes all of us.
Female voice: Yeah.
Chris Hansen: To all of you even the boys?
Male voice: Yeah.
Chris Hansen: So if you don't make the audition, and start bringing in some money as singers, you are going to go into prostitution.
Female voice: Yes.
Male voice: That's right.
Chris Hansen: How did that make you feel when he said "I'm going to put you in to prostitution"?
Female voice: I was scared.
Female voice: Of course, you're scared.
Chris Hansen: Do you think he meant it? Was he serious?
Male voice: Yeah, he's serious.
Female voice: He is.
Chris Hansen: At the end of the day, you didn't just rescue one girl.
Jerry Howe: No. We actually got, I think 15. Yeah. Total.
Chris Hansen: Now you've solved a lot of cases as an FBI agent, as a security consultant, in retirement?
Jerry Howe: Yeah.
Chris Hansen: Where does this case rank?
Jerry Howe: Oh, it's the best one. It really is. Yeah. It's-- I mean, there's a, you know, lots of criminals. Lots of victims. But this was really a, this was really a highlight. And to be able to do it without a badge was (laughter), that was really great.
Chris Hansen: The reality is it sort of played out like a buddy film in a way.
Troop Edmonds: Well, it did. That's what makes the thing such a great story. Is that finally there's a good ending and everybody is pretty much at peace with the whole thing.
Chris Hansen: Lannie, where do you think you'll be 10 years from now?
Lannie: Successful nurse. (laughter)
Chris Hansen: A successful nurse.
Lannie: Yes.
Lannie recently re-took her nursing exam and is determined to come to the U.S. to work.
Chris Hansen: Do you think you can do it?
Lannie: Yes. If I fail, then go again. Fail it, go again.
Chris Hansen: But you'll make it.
Lannie: I will make it.
Lannie says she was saved from an ordeal that could have ruined her life and her health. Anna, who you also met in our story, was not so lucky. Since her rescue, she's been diagnosed with human papillomavirus --a risk factor for cervical cancer. She will soon undergo a test for HIV/AIDS.
Just last month, the government of Malaysia (see Below) enacted a law designed to crack down on human trafficking. That said, President Bush will decide next month if Malaysia should be sanctioned for what U.S. officials call its poor record in combating human trafficking.

= = == == = = =Extra added

Go H E R E for Post ON (& Msia Anti Human Trafficking Bill)

MORE PICS- 38 Chinese Nationals Nabbed Massage Parlors in Raids in Medan Selera, Jalan Pasar, KL; 12 Muslims Masseurs in USJ Subang Jaya & 4 in Kinara

= = == = == = == = = =

Watch the Video Webcast (5 altogether) if you have the time for the "buffering, loading & playing" go H E R E

NB: ALL above images from NBC Video Clips, produced by film producer

The actors and actresses may not be the "real" persons, check with NBC if there is a disclaimer. And the Penang location "shots" can only be confirmed by those familiar and from Penang. The police station was reported to be the HQ in Burmah Road and believe it or not , a TV crew wase allowed inside to film the proceedings. So were there any studio "make-up" shots?

= == = = = = = = =Below New post to be transfer out

MORE PICS – 500 “No Merdeka - Malaysian Indians” Protest - Putra Jaya, Aug 12 07; Attempt-Fail Submit Memo to PM Abdullah on the Plight of Indians after 50 Years

ABOVE & BELOW: Malaysiakini had the breaking story on Aug 12 07 , details H E R E

= == = == == = == == = ==

ABOVE: “50 Years of Golden Jublie Independence CelebrationNo Merdeka for Malaysian Indians – the huge banner unfurled says it all.

ABOVE & BELOW: The Prime Minister avoided the protesters by attending to his UMNO flock up north on the coming BN manifesto

Unfortunately the Prime Minister office was close and Datuk Seri Ahmad Badawi was on an official trip in Pulau Pinang. More than 500 protesters from NGOs and opposition parties had gathered at Putra Jaya on a glommy Sunday morning causing a traffic snarl in the morning as road blocks were set up to prevent buses entering the administrative capital.
The police and the Federal Reserve Unit (FRU) were in abundance to keep the protesters on leash. The protesters left peacefully after making the customary speeches with the supporters shouting hoarse their prepared slogans.
After 50 years what have they achieved and what is the future for them?

ABOVE: The crowd was prevented from going near Bdawi's Seri Perdana residence and BELOW: The other big banners
“Despite dozens of seminars and scores of learned papers, neither the community's leaders nor the MIC have come up with a systemic plan that the government might use to help the Tamil masses, leaving them rudderless and adrift.”

ABOVE & BELOW: Speakers after speakers highlighted thr plight of the Malaysian Indians and urged Badawi to do something quick

= = == Background- Plight of the Malaysian Indians January 25th, 2006

Only UMNO can solve Indian Problem;

In recent weeks there has been a lot of discussion on the plight of the Malaysian Indians. It was started by none other than the supreme leader of the MIC itself. The MIC has failed to uplift the position of the Indians who have and are continuing to lose whatever has been achieved since independence. The Indians alone must solve their problems. The have to change their mindset and struggle to improve their economic well being. Politics has become so communal in Malaysia such that each ethnic community has to take care of its own members. The Indian community is very divided by caste, religion and clans. It is now plagued with problems like unemployment, poverty, gansterism and alcoholism. If the present trend continues these will only become worse.

ABOVE: the police and FRU were at hand to control the peaceful crowd BELOW & BELOW

Can the Indian community by itself come out of the present situation without outside help? Theoretically they can as they have the talent and capabilities but in reality I feel they do not have the will to do so. They had and continue to depend too much on government aid which by itself is not a crime as they are all citizens in this country. They were doing well before as government servants at all levels. Most of them were loyal and possessed good work ethics. On the whole they were an asset to the government and nation. Over the years they were slowly but surely eliminated from the public sector and today sad to say they are denied even the lower category jobs. The Indians like the Malays are basically wage earners and are not business minded like the Chinese. They are contended to be employees and as such have done very well as professionals and administrators in public and private sectors. There are a large number of them successfully employed in the multinational institutions.

ABOVE: P Uthayakumar, one of the leagal advisers were angry that they were single out in the buses during road blocks. BELOW, he showed a letter written to the PM last week and acknowledged and now waiting for his reply as No 1 top civil servant. He want the special privileges and hope "all poor people must be helped"
Many of them who have migrated elsewhere are also doing very well. But in their own country they are in such a pitiful state. If the minority Indian community is allowed to further lose their economic possessions it will be a tragedy not just to them but to the country as a whole. UMNO must realize that if they neglect the Indian community, in future their well being will also be affected as these neglected people will resort to unfavorable activities and even terrorism. The more elite among them would migrate to greener pastures leaving behind those ”unwanted” and the illiterate. These people will become a liability to the nation.

ABOVE & BELOW: Placards stating despite voting for PM & BN government, the Insdians are left out, "no future"

It is important therefore that the UMNO government give some serious thought to the plight of Indians. Employ them and give them the opportunity to excel in the public sector. Tap their talents to improve the public service. UMNO need not fear or be suspicious of the Indians as they will definitely be loyal employees of the government and the nation for life. In the final situation, UMNO and not the MIC that can deliver the Malaysian Indians out of the doldrums.

Dr.Chris Anthony

= == = == from Asia Times, 2005
Malaysia's minority Indians drift; By Baradan Kuppusamy

KUALA LUMPUR - More then 150 years after arriving here to work British-owned rubber plantations, Malaysia's minority Indian community is drifting aimlessly and with little to call their own in their adopted land. Once again the plight of this minority community is being hotly debated, and once again there is deep division over what the causes are and what the remedies might be. The travel and tourism lines of Malaysia, "Truly Asia", are just that - intended to project the image of a contented, plural society living in prosperity while the reality is that there is simmering resentment particularly among Indians of Tamil origin. After 150 years of laboring in rubber and oil-palm plantations and in the Public Works Department, building every kind of infra-structure, Malaysian Indians own less then 2% of the national wealth, economists told a public forum on the future of Malaysian Indians last week. Malaysian Indians have yet to discover their inherent talents, find adequate expression for their culture or assert their identity despite forming about 8% of the population of 25 million people - the third largest group after native Malays who form the majority and the immigrant Chinese. In 2004, minority Indians accounted for a disproportionate 15% of juvenile delinquents, committed 40% of all violent crime and made up nearly 50% of all convicts in prisons - presenting the typical profile of a helpless underclass. Malays constitute nearly 60% of the population, while the economically dominant ethnic Chinese, who control business, make up 25%. The rest are mainly smaller indigenous groups. "We arrived here with a few cooking pots and pans, and three or four generations later most of us are still no better off," said A V Kathiah, a former trade unionist. "Some Indians don't even have that - they have become beggars. "We are marginalized and forgotten not just by the state but also by our own Indian leaders. We have no say on how policies are formulated and our future is really bleak." These arguments are familiar and have been heard, argued and written about for many decades. Despite the grievances, some Indians have done well and have on their own footing clambered up the education ladder out of poverty and today count as successful doctors, engineers and accountants - even businesspeople.

But experts say the majority of the Malaysian Indians are trapped in a life of quiet desperation. Last week, the government's top economic planner gave a briefing to 500 Indian intellectuals, arguing how the government takes the future of Indians into consideration when formulating policies. He asked for a show of hands of people who are happy with the measures taken by the government. "Not one of us raised our hands," said a university lecturer who attended the briefing. Mustapha Mohamad, who heads the government's Economic Planning Unit, then asked who was not satisfied. "All of us put our hands up," the lecturer told IPS.

"We told him in no uncertain terms that government has done little or nothing." The problem, however, is not just official neglect, experts say. While the Malay-dominated government openly favors native Malays and actively helps them get a head start in every way possible way - scholarships, business loans, employment, industrial training - the same government has refused minority Indian demands for an affirmative action policy that would give them a helping hand. "We're not asking for handouts," said Denison Jayasooria, executive director of the Social Strategic Foundation, a private think tank for ethnic Indian concerns. "There are government policies in place to help Indians, but implementation has been weak," Jayasooria said recently. "If this is not addressed, there will be a lot of discontent." Government authorities should recruit more Indians in the civil sector, ensure more places for them in public universities and increase business loans for Indians, he said. Outside an affirmative policy, the government has helped through a quota system under which Indians get 5% to 10% of university places, scholarships and some minimal employment in the civil service. A small elite within the community has used these resources to climb out of poverty, but for most there are no such doors to escape. Some experts also blame the deep division within the community along caste, class and ethnic lines. These are historical factors created by British colonialism that artificially created a structured Indian community with better off, upper-caste Malayalees (from Kerala) and Jaffna Tamils at the top and lower-caste Tamils, who form about 80% of the community, at the bottom.

While the Malayalees and Jaffna Tamils benefited from the close proximity to the British masters and exploited the modernizing economy to accumulate wealth and advance economically, the Tamil laboring masses remained trapped in rubber plantations, living a miserable existence enclosed by a green jungle impenetrable to any modern influence.

Also, like the Chinese who maintained or built new networks on the mainland, the Malayalees and Jaffna Tamils had networks to fall back on in their native lands and had options to move back or move on to other climes. In contrast, the Tamil laborers had turned their backs on the villages in India they came from, and the ignorance and apathy born out of poverty in the plantations resulted in many of them not getting citizenship even in Malaysia. This prevented them from getting jobs or accessing benefits. The plantation Tamils suffered a major blow when rubber and oil-palm plantations were converted to golf courses, housing and new township as the country experienced an economic boom in the 1990s. Many Tamils were uprooted and ended up as unskilled workers living in urban slums, an ideal breeding ground for crime, drugs and gangsterism.

"But those who move to urban centers sometimes have it worse, finding themselves in squalid, crime-ridden settlements and working as low-paid laborers because they lacked sufficient education and skills," said the social activist, S Arulchelvam. The arrival of several million foreign workers made Tamil labor irrelevant to the economy, further marginalizing the community and pushing some of its youths to a life of crime. Unlike other Indian ethnic groups, the Tamils could not fully exploit education as an escape tool. Tamil schools were neglected not only by the state but also by the community itself. Until lately education did not figure highly in the Tamil laborer's scheme of things. The Tamil-dominated Malaysian Indian Congress party (MIC) did try various schemes to give the Tamil masses a stake in the economy - from forming cooperatives to setting up a solely Indian-owned corporation. These schemes failed not just because of bad management but also due to pilfering by the very people entrusted with the hard-earned cash.

The MIC political leadership and vision is also stagnant, feudal and lacking in clout. Although a partner in government, the MIC, led by Samy Vellu since 1979, has not been able to pressure the government into improving the fortunes of the Tamil masses. "He [Samy Vellu] runs the party like a feudal zamindar [tax collector] and makes all the decisions and hangs on to power and will probably die in office," said an academic. Being a minority, the Indians lack the numerical strength to either exert any political influence or make a significant contribution to the national economy.

The plight of the Tamil masses stems first from their own apathy and by the effects of systematic exploitation by colonial capital and, now, neglect by independent Malaysia. Despite dozens of seminars and scores of learned papers, neither the community's leaders nor the MIC have come up with a systemic plan that the government might use to help the Tamil masses, leaving them rudderless and adrift. The neglect has given rise to a strong undercurrent of dissatisfaction and anger in the community - an anger that calls for urgent attention. (Inter Press Service
= == = = == = =

It has been brought to our attention that the Malaysian Indians are alarmingly the highest number being shot dead by the Police. The glaring, brutal and ruthless examples are the six (6) people killed in Tumpat, Kelantan, the eight (8) month pregnant Lady together with four (4) others (who have no previous criminal records) who were shot dead in Sg Besi, the Malaysian Indian Mental Patient who was shot dead in Kluang, Johor and latest three (within a period of two weeks being Anthony Ponnusamy (24/08/2002) Letchumanan Moneandy (24/08/2002) And Mohanan Pillai (6/09/2002).

In the Tumpat, Kelantan incident the Police's excuse of mistaken identity is, insulting the intelligence of all Malaysian as there are almost no Indians residing in Tumpat and any Indian in town would be easily identified and known to any resident in Tumpat, let alone the Police. Furthermore, it has been reported that the said victims were shot at from all directions.

As for the eight (8) month Pregnant Lady shot dead by The Police, it is absurd that they cannot distinguish between an eight month Pregnant Lady and a Criminal and that the police shot her dead in self-defence. It has been brought to our attention that the said Pregnant Lady was also shot at as the police did not want any evidence/anyone left alive to testify as to the truth about the Police Shooting dead an Individual/s.

As for the Malaysian Indian Mental Patient, he was shot dead in full view of hundreds if not thousands of people. Can't the police distinguish between a Mental Patient and a Criminal? The front page colour photo in the local newspaper clearly suggest that the deceased is a Mental Patient. The Police are yet to explain what warranted/justified these citizens being shot dead by the Police let alone an .apology to the families and the country at large and neither has any tenable/valid reasons been offered for the same.

The police also totally disregarded the law in deliberately not wanting to hold an open Inquiry / Inquest as is required by the law except for the Tumpat case. One can only assume that the one and only reason for the same is that the police have something to hide. Alarmingly the highest number (proportionately) being shot dead by the Police are Malaysian Indians. It has been brought to our attention that the Malaysian Indians become easy preys/targets of being shot dead by the police for the following reasons:

1. They do not have Political Clout. For example in the case of shooting dead of the 8 month pregnant lady in Sg. Besi and the six in Tumpat Kelantan, M.I.C President Dato Seri S. Samy Vellu raised the same at the cabinet. He later said that the Prime Minister would look into it. After two (2) years, while the Prime Minister is still "looking into it" the shootings still go on.
2. They do not have Economic Clout.
3. They are socially suppressed and do not have the means to fight back legally.
4. They are ignorant of their Legal Services.
5., Because of Poverty they cannot afford Legal Rights.
6 The Political Parties including the BN, MIC, and the BA and other NGOs' in particular the supposed Human Rights NGOs do not care about the Malaysian Indian Plight as this cause may not be politically rewarding, not exciting, not glamorous, not a populist cause not appealing to the majority communities, would not attract international attention etc.
7. The Local Media including the Tamil Press gives less coverage to this Malaysian Indian plight also for the reason aforementioned in Item 6 hereinabove.
8. The Police take the Indians for granted also for the aforesaid reasons mentioned in Item 6 hereinabove.

Posted on 2003-06-18

= = == = == Paper no. 618 ; 28. 02. 2003

MALAYSIAN INDIANS: The third class race by C. S. Kuppuswamy

A race of people is like an individual man: until it uses its own talent, takes pride in its history, expresses its own culture and affirm its own selfhood, it cannot fulfill itself” --- Malcom X
The third largest ethnic group in Malaysia after the Chinese and the Malays are the Malaysian Indians. Despite the fact that the Indians constitute about 8% of the country’s population of 22 million they own less than 2% of its national wealth. According to The Economist (22nd Feb 2003), “they make up 14% of its juvenile delinquents, 20% of its wife and child beaters and 41% of its beggars. They make up less than 5% of the successful university applicants.” The story of the Indians has been a case of progressive deterioration from the time Malaysia became independent in 1957.

The mass Indian (South Indian) immigration can be traced back to the early 20th century when the Britishers brought them to meet the labour force requirements in the colonial public services and in private plantations. While the bulk of the Tamils were employed in the plantations, the Sri Lankan Tamils and Malayalees were in supervisory or clerical positions. Of the North Indians, the Punjabis were in the police force, while the Gujaratis and Sindhis were in the business (mostly textiles). Despite the mass exodus of South Indians back to India after independence and after the racial riots of May 1969, the Tamils (South Indians) constitute about 80% of the total Indian community.

The Indians themselves are to some extent responsible for their present unenviable and ignominious status, and the policies of the Malaysian Government since independence had not been helpful either. Ignorance born out of poverty in the plantations resulted in many of them not getting citizenship which was offered in 1957 when Malaysia became independent. This prevented them from getting jobs.

A major setback for the Indian labour force was the steady closure of the rubber plantations giving way to tea and oil palm plantations. Their numbers started dwindling and they had competition from the illegal Indonesian immigrants. Unlike the Chinese who lay great emphasis on education, it was not given due importance by the Indian working class. The Tamil schools in the estates were often mere apologies and offered no opportunity for progress in higher education. The undue importance on Tamil education has also weakened the Indian community in competing with the indigenous Malays and the Chinese. One of the major reasons for the low percentage of Indian origin students in the tertiary institutions in the country is the lack of merit and as a result, even the quotas set for the Indians remain unutilised.

Despite their economic backwardness, the Indians were a peace loving people and were not involved in any racial riots either in May 1969 or later except for a few incidents of clashes on account of religious sentiments. However in March 2001, the ethnic clashes between Indians and Malays in a village in the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, brought into focus the plight of the Indian community in Malaysia. The incident has since been forgotten on the assumption that the clashes resulted on account of poor living conditions in the villages than the racial differences. There has been no introspection of this incident by the Government or by the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the leading political party of the Indians.

The MIC, a constituent of the coalition government at the center since independence does not have much political clout and has not been able to do anything substantial to improve the lot of the Indians. Datuk Seri Samy Vellu is the President of the MIC since 1979. Charles Santiago, a Malaysian economic consultant, in an interview on 5 Feb. 2003 to Radio Australia (Asia Pacific) said “ He (Samy Vellu) is in, very much in control of the party, and the party’s run almost on feudal organisation where almost all the decisions are made by the President himself…. A lot of Indians are critical of MIC’s role in the coalition government … the Indian middle class dose not want to associate itself in the MIC and largely making the MIC a working class party." This in brief sums up the state of affairs of the leading Indian party and its leader in the coalition government.
On January 9, 2003, India celebrated the Parvasi Bhartiya Divas (Day of the Persons of the Indian origin and Non resident Indians), and ten eminent persons of Indian origin were given the Indian Diaspora award. Datuk Seri Samy Vellu was one among them. One wonders whether Government of India made any enquiry about Datuk Seri Samy Vellu's contributions to the Malaysian Indians. Referring to the grand mela organised by Government of India for the people of Indian origin, Dr. P. Ramasamy of Malaysia in a letter to the Far Eastern Economic Review (Feb., 27, 2003) said “like previous (Indian) governments it continues to betray the interest and welfare of million of Indians locked in poverty and misery overseas…. It wants to develop the links with the wealthy segments of the overseas Indian community while turning a blind eye at the less savory side of the diaspora.”

The Malaysian Government policies since independence have also been consistently to the detriment of the non-Malays in general though the Indian community seems to be most hard hit. The first major step was the introduction of work permits for the non-citizens when a majority of Indian workers had not obtained Malaysian citizenship. Subsequently in 1971 with its New Economic Policy, the Government championed the cause of the Malays by the policy of "Bhumiputras"(sons of the soil). The Bhumiputras were to have a major share in the public sector while the private sector remained secure with the Chinese.

The introduction of quotas for the different races in the educational institutions has also adversely affected the Indian community. The New Development Plan for the period 1991-2000 was also designed to achieve the socio-economic upliftment of the Bhumiputras and the MIC’s efforts to place the Indians in a separate ethnic grouping seems to have made no headway with the Malaysian Government. Being a minority, they do not have the numerical strength to exert any political influence nor do they make any significant contribution to the national economy. The ruling government’s apathy to the Indians is therefore understandable.

But what about the leaders like Samy Vellu and what has been their contribution towards the alleviation of poverty of the poor people of Indian origin? There has been none.
The following observations elucidate some of the reasons for the current state of the Indians and the bleak chances of their betterment:
*"Malaysians have failed to integrate in any meaningful fashion, even after almost forty years of independence.” – Edmund Terrence Gomez in the book “ Ethnic Futures – The state and identity politics in Asia
* ‘Indians have little prospect of advancement, since Malaysia’s Chinese minority dominates business and Malays control the bureaucracy”- P.Ramasamy (The Economist 22nd February 2003).
* “Despite the country’s veneer of racial harmony and opportunity for all, many in the Indian community have limited access to housing , education and jobs. About 54% of Malaysian Indians work on plantations , or as urban labourers and their wages have not kept up with the times.” –Santha Oorjitham (Asiaweek January 26, 2001).
* “The Scope of government help (to the Indians) is also limited by the realities of the race politics in Malaysia, which effectively means the problems of the majority Malays will always come ahead of those of the Indians”. – Simon Elegant (FEER April 20, 2000).
* “Malaysia’s Indians are at the bottom of the country’s social and economic scale and their ebullient yet stubborn political leader Samy Vellu is not helping matters”. Simon Elegant (FEER April 20, 2000)


The plight of the Malaysian Indians can be attributed in part to a dependency mindset nurtured on the plantations and this has to be overcome. There is a significant and emergent need for a change in the leadership of the Indian parties in power to take up the cause of the Indians to get them their due rights free from racial discrimination and have full access to jobs and education. As proposed in the Conference on the “The Malaysian Indian in the new millennium –rebuilding the Community” held at Kuala Lumpur in June 2002, problems such as the loss of self esteem within the community, external derision and the absence of unifying factors to forge a single identity have to be addressed by the leading cultural, social and political institutions and embark on an action plan. However the effort has to come from within the community and has to be sustained as such deliberations have been there in the past also with no major impact on the Government.

Till now the Indian Government has done very little in this regard. Since the Government of India has now embarked upon a programme for interacting with the Overseas Indians, especially with the affluent sections in the Western nations, it should also look after the interests of the under privileged Overseas Indians in countries like Malaysia. As part of the “Look East” policy interaction with Malaysia especially in the field of education will be beneficial to the Indian community. The High Commission of India in Kuala Lumpur used to award scholarships to the poorer sections of the Indian community in the late 80’s. The system , if continuing, can be augmented further to help the community. Setting up IIT type institutions and exchange programmes can also be considered. There is need to make a proper selection and not go by the recommendations of the big wigs.
As of now the problems faced by the Malaysian Indians are not being attended to by the Malaysian Government nor does the community have the economic or political clout to demand their redressal. One wonders whether the Indians belong to the third major race or to a third class race in the country. We are not aware what recommendations the High Power Committee of Government of India ( really high powered with extensive tours all over the world, five star hotels and lavish receptions etc) have made for the poorer sections of the Indian community abroad. Acceptance of the dual citizenship for a selected class is not going to be helpful either for this hapless lot.

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