READING Wan Lydiawati Abdul Majid’s account of her four years of hell after being led into becoming a drug mule was heartbreaking.
As horrible as it was, she is actually one of the lucky ones. She is back in Malaysia with her family.
And she is now able to share her story, so that hopefully no one else would have to go through what she did.
Early in 2007, Lydiawati, who is originally from Perak, was taking her final semester at a local tertiary institute in Kuala Lumpur.
She was befriended by a woman known as Kak Siti, who promised her an easy life.
This included a holiday overseas, where everything was paid for — an offer she found too tempting to resist.
Without telling her mother, Lydiawati went on the trip and toured parts of Europe and South America. They shopped lavishly.
Then she was instructed to travel to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago alone.
After a week by herself, Kak Siti finally met her and took her to the airport, telling her to bring back a bag with supposed valuables, which she had to take extra care of.
Upon check-in, customs officers searched her bag and found small packets of a white powdery substance concealed behind the lining.
“As if knowing what they were, I felt like my life was over — I couldn’t go home and meet mama again. It was over,” Lydiawati is quoted as saying.
The substance was cocaine weighing 2.197kg.
In other countries she could have been sentenced to death or life imprisonment. Lydiawati was ‘lucky’. After 14 months of trial, she was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison with hard labour.
There she was incarcerated with foreign criminals, including murderers.
“Some were as young as 14 years old. It was horrible. I had to do hard labour like washing and cleaning within the prison compound,” she said.
Lydiawati had to share a pail with her cellmates to defecate and urinate, eating bread infested with maggots and breaking fast with rotten food.
She was finally released in June last year and was back in Malaysia three days before Hari Raya.
When I read her story, I felt hope for Sarawakian drug mules overseas. Perhaps those in Australia at least, such as Beatrice Laus Johie and the nursing student from Kampung Annah Rais, would be able to one day return to Sarawak and the arms of their family members and other loved ones.
Those caught in China may not even have that chance. If they were found guilty of bringing 500 grams or more of drugs into that country, they would be shown the gallows.
As painful as it is to hear these facts and stories such as Lydiawati’s, we Sarawakians really need to make sure they are well known.
Share these stories with your friends and family members, particularly our brethren in the villages and longhouses.
They need to know that there are evil people out there who will manipulate their desires and emotions, blinding them with gifts and glamorous holidays, but ultimately leading them down the path of destruction.
Don’t let another Sarawakian be caught overseas as a drug mule. If they knowingly carried the drugs, then it was a gamble they were willing to take.
However, if they were like Beatrice Laus Johie (who has claimed she unknowingly carried the 1.5kg of heroin in her luggage), the tales of lives unknowingly destroyed are incredibly devastating.
Kudos to Lydiawati and her mother for having the courage to share their story. It must be incredibly difficult to tell the world of their shame, but because of their bravery, hopefully many will be saved.
The report from The Star:
Former drug mule tells of exotic holiday-turned-hell in public sharing
By NIGEL EDGAR
KUCHING: Wan Lydiawati Abdul Majid thought she was going for an exotic holiday when she left the country in 2007.
Instead, she ended up spending four years behind bars in a foreign land.
Lydiawati was convicted of possessing 2.197kg of cocaine by the court of Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. Released just before Raya last year, she became the country’s first drug mule to share her experience publicly.
“I just do not want the young people to become victims like I did,” Lydiawati, now 26, said during the sharing session held as part of the Publicity, Information and Public Diplomacy Programme here yesterday.
Her story began in early 2007 just as she was sitting for her final semester at a local higher learning institute in Kuala Lumpur.
Originally from Perak, Lydiawati was on her own in Kuala Lumpur while her mother, a single parent, was working as a cook at a National Service camp back home and taking care of her five younger siblings.
Lydiawati often hung out with her friends in the city. At one point, she met an older woman known only as “Kak Siti”.
“She asked me all sorts of question and asked about my background.
“Hearing that I came from a hard life, and my mother a single parent taking care of my other five siblings, she promised me an easy life, as long as I follow her,” Lydiawati recalled.
Kak Siti, who was apprehended later, had been convicted and sentenced to a 10-year imprisonment in the very same prison where Lydiawati was detained.
It was during her final semester break in 2007 that Lydiawati was offered by Kak Siti to go on a holiday overseas.
As everything was paid for, she said it was too tempting an offer to resist.
“I was too naive and immature at the time. I didn’t even inform my mother of my holiday trip,” said Lydiawati.
She said at first, the trip went well. Both of them toured parts of Europe and shopped lavishly. One day, Kak Siti instructed Lydiawati to go to the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago alone.
“I reluctantly went there. Kak Siti promised that she will contact and meet me there the next day. However, I waited for about week at a lodging — which I assumed was arranged and provided by her — before we meet.
“I was supposed to go back to Malaysia at the time. She took me to the airport and asked me to bring back a bag. She said there were valuables in the bag and that I must take extra care of it. Upon check-in, the customs officer asked to search my bag. I just complied.”
That was when everything took a disastrous turn, said Lydiawati.
“One of the officers said it seemed as if there were some things within the lining of my bag. They asked if they could cut it open. Without thinking, I just agreed.
“It was a tense moment and I could not think straight as deep inside my mind, I suspected something was amiss. That’s was when they found small packets of white powdery substance concealed behind the lining.
“As if knowing what they were, I felt like my life was over — I couldn’t go home and meet mama again. It was over,” lamented Lydiawati.
After thorough checks, Lydiawati said the officers confirmed that the substance was cocaine — all 2.197kg of it.
“I was arrested and detained at a police station near the airport. As I heard a plane flying by the police station building, I knew that my plane had left and there was no hope for me to return home.
“A police officer offered if there was anyone I would like to call back home. I was reluctant to call my mother. I was scared and ashamed. At last, I called her,” she said, who then burst into tears.
Lydiawati was detained on June 13, 2007 as investigation was being carried out. After 14 months of trial, she was convicted and sentenced to four years in prison with hard labour in August the following year.
“Life in prison was hard, especially when I was incarcerated with foreign criminals, including murderers.
“Some were as young as 14 years old. It was horrible. I had to do hard labour like washing and cleaning within the prison compound,” she related.
In June last year, Lydiawati was finally released. After some fiasco with the immigration, she finally flew back in Malaysia just three days before Hari Raya.
Her mother, Sharifah Marina Syed Hamzah said when Lydiawati called, she was at work cooking for hundreds of National Service participants in Perak.
“I couldn’t believe it at first. Only after confirming with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Wisma Putra Kuala Lumpur, I knew it was true. I immediately fainted.
“It was the worst shock of my life.
“However, I was glad that the ministry and authorities have been helpful enough. I am glad that my daughter is back,” she said tearfully.
How The Borneo Post reported it:
Four years of hell
By Zoee Hillson
KUCHING: Former drug mule shares experience in jail and how she was lured by illegal syndicate.
A sharing by a former drug mule that she had to endure four years of hard labour at a prison in Trinidad and Tobago should serve as a timely reminder to young girls not to fall for something that is ‘too good to be true’.
At an eye opening sharing session, Wan Lydiawati Abdul Majid, who referred to herself as Lydia, struck home the message that no one is safe from falling victim to illegal drug syndicates if they are not careful.
She related how in 2007, an ‘unbelievable’ all-expenses trip around Europe and South America turned into her worst nightmare when she was found guilty of possessing 2.197 kg of cocaine at Crown Point International Airport in Trinidad and Tobago.
The Rawang girl was on the trip together with a woman called ‘Kak Siti’, who befriended her when she was studying in Kuala Lumpur.
“I’m here as a reminder to anyone out there who are even thinking of getting involved in drug trafficking to stop whatever they plan to do and be careful of the people they befriend,” she said in a sharing session during the ‘Publicity, Information and Public Information’ programme organised by Ministry of Foreign Affairs here yesterday.
“I never thought that among all people, I would be a criminal…be sentenced to prison. I thought I was invincible to these things and it was something that you only see in papers and TV,” she added.
Recalling her mistakes that landed her in prison in a foreign land, Lydia said she blamed her carelessness and stubborn attitude the most.
“I thought I was old enough to make my own decisions without telling anyone, including my mother. I was blinded by the offer to go on an all-expenses trip to Europe where I would shop and travel for free,” said Lydia, adding that during that time, she never intended to tell her single mother, Sharifah Marina Syed Hamzah, about the trip.
The supportive mother accompanied her daughter to the talk which moved her and some participants to tears.
Lydia began to sense something amiss when she noticed that during their stop in Caracas, Venezuela, ‘Kak Siti’ was always attending meetings with people while she was instructed to wait at cyber cafes.
‘Kak Siti’ then told her to fly ahead to Trinidad and Tobago and assured her that she would arrive the next day.
“I ended up waiting for weeks until I received a call from her to take care of a bag that was with me. She even told me that the bag contained drugs, which I could not believe until enforcement officers at the airport found the drugs in my luggage,” she said.
She described her time in the prison as a ‘living hell’ where she had to share a cell with two other prisoners.
“I was terrified because I was surrounded by all sorts of criminals including murderers! There I was feeling so lost and small in a foreign prison,”
Among her worst experiences, she said, was sharing a pail with her cellmates to defecate and urinate, eating bread infested with maggots and breaking fast with rotten food.
“I woke up every morning pinching myself, hoping that I would hear my mother’s voice and opened my eyes to view my own room. I really felt the pain when all I saw were steel bars,” she said.
“If I was not strong and wasn’t thinking about by mother and God, it would be so easy for me to take a blanket and hang myself. There are people who do that in prison because they can’t stand the stress and pressure of prison life,” she recalled between tears.
In her parting remark, Lydia emphasised that youngsters should never assume that they are ‘matured’ and independent enough to make decisions without telling anyone.
“Never think you are too matured or independent to tell your parents your decisions and plans, they must know what you are doing to keep you in check with life,” she advised.
Today, the 26-year-old is trying to find light in the tragedy and feels that she was put in the situation for a reason.
“I believe that I was there for a reason. That’s why I’m putting that experience into positive use to help others realise the dangers lurking around us that we never saw coming.
“My heart aches whenever I read in papers of young ladies getting caught in countries such as China where a firing squad awaits them if found guilty for drug trafficking. I was in fact lucky to be caught in Trinidad and Tobago because I can still be here to share my story,” she said.
Marina advised parents, especially those single ones, to always keep track of their children no matter how old they are.
“This kind of ordeal knows no age. It could happen to anyone. We just have to take precautionary measures.
“Keep track of your children no matter how old they are,” she said.