There are currently 88 Malaysian women serving jail time abroad for drug smuggling offences, generally labelled as "drug mules". Of the number, 10 are Sabahans.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry, in response to a Daily Express query, said that going by place where such offences were committed, statistics show that that the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) has the highest number with 17.
"This is followed by Taipei which has officially registered 12 Malaysian women detainees and Guangzhou (in China) with nine women," the statement said.
Further breakdown is as follows: Jakarta (8), Bangkok (7), Shanghai (6), Tokyo (5), Accra (capital of Ghana) (4), Brasilia (capital of Brazil) (3), Pontianak (3), Ho Chi Minh (2), Kunming (city in China), Songkhla (city in southern Thailand) (2), Wellington (2), Caracas (capital of Venezuela) (1), Kathmandu (capital of Nepal) (1), Lima (capital of Peru) (1), Medan (1), Madrid (1) and Vienna (1).
- In August this year, wife of Foreign Minister, Datin Sri Siti Rubiah Datuk Abdul Samad, met with three Malaysian women who were detained in Caracas since 2007/2008 and had completed their prison sentences.
- The trio were released on parole since 2010 and even allowed to work within the country (Venezuela). One of them returned to Malaysia the following month (September).
- During the meeting with Siti Rubiah, the women hoped their predicament and incarceration would serve as a deterrent and lesson to other Malaysian women not to be easily influenced or too trusting with strangers.
- Of the 88 detained "drug mules", Daily Express understands 10 are from Sabah, an increase by four since 2007, based on media reports.
- They are believed to be still languishing in foreign jails.
- Umi Azlim Mohamad Lazim (then 24), a Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) graduate in Biological Science, was detained at China's Shantou International Airport in January 2007 after immigration officers found 2.98kg of heroin on her.
- She was given the death sentence in May that year, and was not allowed to appeal for two years.
- According to her, she was taken in by an Internet advertisement which offered a lucrative job for sending goods.
- In May 2010, Sandakan girl Christina Luke Niju (then 22), then studying at a Kuching Polytechnic College, went missing.
- She told her parents that she was going on a school trip to China but instead went there with a Nigerian man she befriended online, and ended up as a drug mule. Daily Express interviewed her parents in Sandakan.
- Two cases emerged in 2011, one of which was reported in an Indonesian newspaper. A young woman, then in her twenties and from a district on the West Coast of Sabah, was caught smuggling heroin into Indonesia.
- She was subsequently sentenced to 17 years in jail. Her devastated family declined to be interviewed and told Daily Express that highlighting her case may aggravate the health condition of her father who had a heart problem.
- In the second case, Daily Express reported in September 2012 that the victim (then 31) from Kg Kulambai Dundau, close to Kota Belud, was nabbed by a Customs Officer at the Guangzhou International Airport in March 2011 upon her arrival from Kuala Lumpur.
According to the woman's family, she was charged in the Guangzhou City Court for smuggling substances believed to contain 49.5 pc heroin in August 2011. In September that year, the family received a call from an official, believed to be from the Malaysian Embassy in Guangzhou, China, saying their daughter had been jailed three years for smuggling drugs into China.
And in October 2013, a 35-year-old man from Tawau and a 28-year-old woman from Penampang were arrested at the Kaohsiung International Airport on arrival from Kuala Lumpur. Six kilograms of heroin were reportedly hidden in secret compartments inside their suitcase.
She is the 10th known case of Sabahan women ending up in foreign jails for becoming drug mules.
Source: Sabah Daily Express