Prior to this, the media had only highlighted two other cases — that of a 22-year-old nursing student from Betong who was detained at Shenzhen Airport in Guangzhou, China last March; and that of a teenager from Politeknik Matang, who was also caught in China, last year.
Both had befriended South African men on Facebook.
I really hope that these two young women, as well as the other two whose stories have not been highlighted in the media, also receive the support they need from the authorities. Their families should also receive counselling and support.
It was good to learn from a Bernama report that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is willing to help Beatrice’s family.
Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and Serian MP Datuk Richard Riot said the ministry would assist Beatrice’s family to obtain travel documents to visit her in Melbourne.
This would be of great help to keep her spirits up in these testing times. Having family support may also help her case. Seeing her children would be priceless.
Going to Melbourne would be a huge financial commitment in terms of the airfare, accommodation and day to day expenses like food etc. Hopefully there will be support from some quarters in this respect too.
Datuk Riot said he is also keeping in touch with the Malaysian Consul General in Melbourne on any updates. It is reassuring that he has taken an interest in Beatrice’s case.
I just hope that the other four Sarawakian women are not forgotten either.
The report from Bernama:
Foreign Ministry prepared to assist Beatrice’s family – Riot
KUCHING, Nov 11 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Foreign Affairs is prepared to assist the family of Beatrice Laus Johie to obtain travel documents to visit her in Melbourne where she is facing a charge of attempting to smuggle about 1.5kg of heroin, deputy minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem said Friday.
Expressing disappointment and anger at the latest drug mule case involving yet another gullible Sarawak woman, Riot said he was staying in constant touch with the Malaysian Consul General in Melbourne, who has been asked to monitor the situation closely and provide him with updates.
“My ministry can provide assistance if there are requests from Beatrice’s parents to bring her three sons to visit her, but the travel expenses have to be borne by her family,” he told a news conference here.
Beatrice, 27, an assistant nurse at a private hospital here, and a single mother of three — aged seven, six and 18 months — claimed that she knew nothing about the heroin in her bag, and that it belonged to an African friend who was to accompany her to Melbourne.
However, he backed away at the last minute, saying he had problems with his visa.
Riot said he was happy to hear that Beatrice, from Kampung Seratau near here, is well taken care of by the Melbourne police, pending another mention of her case at the Melbourne magistrate’s Court on Jan 9 next year.
He said Beatrice was among five Sarawak women who have been arrested overseas for acting as drug mules after being lured by African men whom they had befriended through the Facebook social network.
All five men had entered the country with student visas, he said.
Despite many efforts by his ministry to warn of the dangers of drugs, Riot questioned whether monetary greed could be one of the motives for these mostly tertiary educated victims to be involved in such transactions.
At present his ministry does not issue visas but only letters of conduct to Malaysians intending to go overseas for studies, permanent residence and work, he said.
Since 1991, he said, 46 per cent, or 889 out of the total 1,941 Malaysians arrested for various offences overseas were accused of drug-related crime.