Thursday, 15 May 2008

Don't be a mule or an ass

Some time ago, I received a phone call from a lady telling me about her predicament. She had been working in a comfortable job in Malaysia for some time but was lured by her boss’ client to come back and work for him here in the UK, with a more lucrative offer, a comfortable life and of course the constant company of the man who made the offer.

She packed her bags and left. She worked and worked but payment was nowhere to be seen. He took her around, of course but her passport was always with him. And, yes, he has a wife.

A few months after repeated albeit empty promises about her pay, she decided to call anyone who could help her out of her predicament.

I listened to her and was quite stunned that a well spoken, intelligent woman could fall for such a promise. She wasn’t young, not like most of the mules who were doped into carrying drugs across the world and are now languishing in prisons abroad. Nor was she like those 20 young and attractive girls who said they answered adverts luring them to good jobs in London but later found themselves to be part of the sex trade coming from our part of the world.

She had actually known the guy for some time. Someone she counted as a close friend.

But it is the same story, isn’t it? The promise of a good life in greener pastures, the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.

Don’t these people have alarm bells ringing in their heads when approached with such too good to be true offers? And don’t they discuss with friends and relatives and ask for their opinions? I just wonder.

Recently I met up with our new Foreign Minister and I can see that he is clearly serious about having some kind of regulations for travelling – especially those young ones. But I can also see that getting letters of consent is a bit too much. But I can understand that at the end of the day, it is the officials of his ministry that will have to bear the burden of visiting prisons, answering questions and dealing with pleas from desperate parents at home. That is what they are doing now with those banged up in prisons in Malta, Peru, Spain and China.

I don’t know what happened to the lady I mentioned above, but I suspect she was given a temporary travel document by our embassy to go home. The same happened to the 20 gullible young ladies who were duly deported. They discovered that their life of comfort translated into living in crammed accommodation with 20 others and luxury and excitement meant servicing 50 clients a week.

If I were to receive any offer which I thought would change my life, I would certainly have discussed it with my family. I would have asked their opinion. I would ask the advise of my close friends. The fact that certain transactions were done in a hush, hush manner, means that there’s something not right.

While many are doped into working for a bigger syndicate, which is always looking out for gullible people, some actually knew what they are doing. They took their chances, forgetting that the authorities are always one step ahead. It is not worth it, sayang – no matter what the offer. Try watching Banged up Abroad – a programme about people in foreign prisons who were caught with drugs in their possession. In my younger days I have covered too many court cases similar to these and they sure come up with very lame excuses.

Anyway, one of the 20 girls who were rounded up in brothels in and around London two years ago actually escaped and ran to Malaysia Hall. That was where she got help and was sent back. It was her story that helped the arrest of the ringleaders. Apparently, she was told by her boyfriend to come and work in London to repay her debts to him. What kind of a boyfriend would send his girl to the devil?

These are only tip of the iceberg – we only get to know about them when they are reported. What about others?

So, don’t be a mule or an ass. Be wise.


Anonymous said...

Kak Teh dear,

I remember having similar conversation with a friend, that our society is becoming materialistic, wealth is a measure of success and no matter how much you have, it is never enough. hence, the mentality of "grass is greener" out there. They go to greater lengths to fulfill their desire, without knowing that sometimes, their action is at the expense of others (parents eg).

When I was young, I told myself that with strong education background, I should be able to succeed. Not only that, one must also hold to their values.

As I become a mother, I am giving the same lesson to my girl. More emphasis on the values. I'm sure she can attend the best school, and at the same time, I hope and pray she too becomes grounded. The combination of both will lead to a wise person.

ps: bila nak jumpa ni?

Sunfloraa said...

Very good advice indeed Kakteh!

I don't think the girls or that lady could be that naive but then again perhaps that's why they were handpicked by the unscrupulous?

I too hope to teach my child to make the right decisions for herself. If its too good to be true, its too good to be true. Research before hand! And also to have the strength to seek help when the initial alarm bells start ringing.

I may go over in July, will tell you more when I know more :)

wonda said...

An eye-opener. Despite so many cases, people still fall victims to some unscrupulous people (even "friends"). Is this write-up published in the paper? A good one.

Kak Teh said...

Ms Istanbul, it is called greed, isnt it? You want to have more and more and not satisfied with having less.
I am sure, no matter where we are in life, as long as we have our feet firmly on the ground, we will be okay. and also, never forget family values. Insyaallah, with what you have withyour lil one, she will be okay. I hope mine will be okay too. We can only do so much and we pray that the Almighty looks after them too.

Aaaaah, bila nak jumpa? I am looking at my diary and will sms.

Kak Teh said...

sunflora, I suspect that most of them know what they were in for. They think they'd be lucky enough to escape. We certainly have to teach our children early in life. Drill into them what's wrong and what's right and always to come back to us for anything at all. Insyaallah.

Yes, do let me know when you are coming. Looking forward to meeting again!

Kak Teh said...

alice, I did a version of this for my column. This is an extended one. Yes, indeed, it is surprising that so many people are gullible enough to fall for such offers.

Anonymous said...

Haish! the thing people do for love! tapi berapa lama boleh survive dgn cinta? lama2 pun kena makan nasi juga.

wanshana said...

It just makes us wonder, kan?

The best lessons are learnt from somebody else's experience actually. But, after so many people fell victims to all those devils, there are STILL people out there do not take heed of all those horror stories!!!

Pelik sungguh... Can't they think?

D said...

I agree with Ms Istanbul:education is important. I'd however like to add that a strong religious foundation is also inevitable. May our children and loved ones be horses and bulls (?!). HeHe.. As opposed to mules n asses!

Unknown said...

Salam Kak Teh...

Great advice you give us here akak... I still cannot fanthom people who don't discuss with families about the choice to work or go abroad for whatever reason... errr secretive sangat ke sampai family tak matter....

sad kan akak when things like this happened?

have a great weekend akak. Oh ye, happy teacher's day...there a teacher spirit and determination in you, i noted...

ms hart said...

Kak Teh, that's why in bringing up my kids, I always stress on 'no secret' policy. I think communication matters a lot, kan? Even though they talk sooooo much, my God, too much most of the times...ha ha ha...I told myself, tak pe, lebih baik they all cerita dgn kita daripada tak. Like you said, hairan why such an important step in one's life, boleh pulak tak cerita kat family. Nauzubillah.

Kak Teh said...

mdl, it is so true.I once met a chinese girl at the immigration - she was renewing her passport - and was with her luggage and all - nak tidur di airport because all went wrong with bf. Last last balik ke keluarga juga. Tapi itu yang masih mahu balik kek keluarga, yang malu dan tak mahu balik terus jadi macam mana entahlah.

Kak Teh said...

wanshana, it seems that they are oblivious to whats happening - either they dont read the newspapers or they think they will be the lucky ones.

D, yes, we must ensure a strong religious background - something as an anchor. kalau apapun we know there's our religious teachings and our family too.

Kak Teh said...

raden galoh, have a great weekend too. I didnt realise it is hari guru...well i suppose i am guru of some sort - hehe!

ms hart, ya the no secret policy is good. once dia orang bersembunyi - then that is when the problem starts. And yes, it is worrying.

Anonymous said...

Salam Kak Teh,
God, this is such an eye opener for the youngsters yang hot-bercinta, hot-putus cinta, greedy for instant cash and go against their parents advices. Well, I thought I would share a piece of my story with you. Recently, I was offered to be portrait model for a group of professional artists in Devon. (with clothes of course!) Their manager approached me while I was working in one of the high-street shops. She looked posh, elegant and smart mid-age woman. She offered gooood amount of money for a session, I get tea-breaks in between and get to meet famous artists. All I needed to do is sit on a chair and smile for few hours. At first I thought why not. It’s an experience afterall. Plus she shopped in that kind of shop, carried Balenciaga bag, and yeahhh looked convincing. She said she would pick me up at my house and send me home after the session. I could bring a friend if I am afraid and I could turn down the offer anytime during the session. Very considerate that lady, told me to think about it and call her if I decide to do it. Hmmm I was excited of course! Kena puji and good money kan??!!~ Went home after work, talked to some male friends and asked them to join me for a session and see how it goes. Haiihh, nasiblah dorang ni bukan mata duitan like me; all said NO! Don’t do it! We are not going with you and we won’t let you go. “Gila ka, God knows where that place is!” they said. They came out with crazy ideas like Jual Orang, Prostitute, Rape, and many more. So in the end, I didn’t go. I didn’t even call that mid-age woman to say “Thanks for the offer but No, I’m afraid I can’t do it” and I never see her again in town.

Conclusion Kak Teh , sampai sekarang I wonder what would happen if I did go? Mana lah tahu my portrait dibeli oleh Queen’s Elizabeth ker? Or turn out to be in a famous gallery ker? Hahaha… I still have her number… could always call her up for a session if I need some extra cash... hahaha buuut No, I think I’m still sensible enough, so I won’t do it. =)

Hope everything is well with you Aunty Zahara,
Lots of love from Devon.

Kak Teh said...

NHH, it is a shame isnt it when we have to be suspicious of every little gestures. We have been taught not to trust anyone. You are right to talk to your friends and ask for their advise. I remember reading about one model (in Malaysia) who was taken to a photo shoot and then after a few sessions, she had a drink and was found unconscious. Her clothes dah lain macam. And you know with all these photo shoots u dont know what they can do with your photos thanks to photoshop. My daughter was approached by a lady at one of the shopping centres in KL. She was asked to go alone. I stopped her. Tak glamour and tak famous pun tak apalah asalkan you dont appear in the media for the wrong reasons.

Thanks for sharing your story and take care! Devon must be beautiful now.

Lee said...

Hi Kak Teh, when something sounds too good to be true, our radar should be activated. There's no such thing as a free lunch.
Here too, we read very often of women from overseas getting marmalade on their toasts and coming here, with promises of good jobs, whatever, only to learn what they had to do.
But, I guess a lot of people are naive or gullible when a snake charmer or medicine man come along.
And I have read of even top CEO's with Harvard or Yale backgrounds getting goreng big time.
Me? Whenever I hear of something that sounds like Nirvana, I chabut leave skid marks, ha ha...yes, even if she is beautiful, ha ha.
You stay easy and keep well, Kak Teh. Good posting this. Lee.

Kak Teh said...

Lee, ya - I'd like to think that I am a good judge of character. I trust my first gut feeling. And if people try to pull a fast one - i usually know.
But these days you read about so many people who are taken in by the get rich quick schemes...and these are not stupid people.
You know here in london, sometimes we hear of people coming to sell magic stones, land title deeds and all came to nothing!
I dont only leave a skid marks, I leave a blazing trail! Thanks for dropping by Lee. Am tempted to try your storytelling technics one of these days and see how my story telling skills go!

[danial][ma] said...

hej! kak teh...i think in the materialistic world, people are too greedy and could not see things beyond £ or $...

rendrazaleigh. said...

rasanya kak r teh boleh jadi counselor yang berjaya.

kak teh rasanya remaja malaysia lebih kritikal poseurnya. singgahla di blog saya =)

Kak Teh said...

danial ma, yes, it all boils down to greed - and isnt money the root of all evil?

azizul, ya - insyallah kak teh akan singgah - dan dah banyak kali juga jenguk ke blog azizul.

J.T. said...

Hello Kak Teh

It is hard to comprehend some people's thought process when they take up on offers for greener pastures. There are so many reasons out there. So, it is not surprising (in a way) that we even hear professionals, mature women, etc getting duped into such situations as you mentioned. Sometimes it is the state of mind at that moment in life of an individual that makes one throw caution to the wind.

Good values, education, communication all play an important role. Yet, I have heard of some people from such a background become victims.

Maybe one has to know oneself well to know what one wants in this life. Do I make any sense?

Kak Teh said...

Hi JT, Yes, some people are driven to make such decisions because of the circumstances they are in. And that makes them very vulnerable.
What I am trying to say here is if only people bounce off ideas with their families and relatives - get second opinion then decide.

And nowadays with so many reports in the media, one would think people are more cautious.

One man I heard was arrested on arrival, carrying with him not less than 50 credit cards. He was to hand them over to someone - again he did this because he was in debt. But he was caught.

Fauziah Ismail said...

Salam Kak Teh
We reported cases of women being caught as drug mules but there are also men who do this.
When caught, they say they didn't know they were carrying drugs. Some do it for love, others do it for money.
When I travel, I don't carry stuff for people, unless I know the person well.

NorAiniJ said...

Good entry Kak Teh. Seram bila you kata it's only a tip of the iceberg.

Kak Teh said...

Fauziah, yes, there are men as well - just as gullible. But I think the majority are women. I am cautious as well about carrying people's barang - only those we know and trust saja.

NJ, yes, according to police report here - this is just the tip of the iceberg.

ZABS said...

Salam Kak Teh,

Thank you for the visit. My advice in this matter is, "If it is too good to be true, then.. it is not true".

J.T. said...

Hi Kak Teh

Oh yeah, I don't deny the fact that if people talk to their trusted relatives and friends to get opinions/ideas on their plans, they can save themselves from a lot of trouble. They have to be open, of course, to receiving opinions. If not, they might as well just go about doing things quietly and possibly falling victim to someone out there.

Kak Teh said...

Zabs, so so true.

Jt - yes, I know what you mean.

Salt N Turmeric said...

Kak Teh, it seems like tht woman went to London w the guy, not only for the lucrative money but also for the guy. DOuble whammy case lah ni. Money & love. But she sounded like an educated person, so she shudv asked for offer letter, working visa & whtever else in writing. Nak kerja di negara orang bukan senang kan?

Typhoon Sue said...

it's not so easy to pack up and leave the country just like that so when an opportunity knocks (or so they thought), many people don't seem to think twice about saying yes. That's how these mistakes are made. It's not necessarily greed on their part-- it may just be desperation to get out of the situation that they're in. People always do stupid things when they're desperate.

As for the trend of youngs girls becoming mules for all these drug traffickers, I think it is mostly greed. They may have suspicions about what they are carrying yet choose to turn a blind eye because the pay is good. Stupid dum-dum.

Tunku Halim said...

Kak Teh - The world regrettably is increasingly unsafe. Our young women and men too need to be very cautious and not so trusting. There are so many people out there wanting to take advantage of them. Well done for publicising this!

Anonymous said...

The thing is, Kak Teh, we always want something better, and there will always be those who prey on this ever desire.

Care must be taken but even the wisest amongst us can fall for such schemes at the wrong moments. Resolve can weaken. Let's pray for everyone to be just that much stronger.

Mama Rock said...

kak teh, during my student days people carry luggage for other people mainly for the split of fare. but those days intention was genuine - now one has to be very careful in doing good deeds to others too, i guess

Kak Elle said...

Sometimes the sweet talk blinded them ...kesian kan? said...

Kak Teh oi,
I got one relative in UK, jump aeroplane type, dah dekat dua tahun sana. He will be coming home end of this month sebab the father dah tenat. I just pray he gets through all ok and be right back. His sister pulak, in NZ, still nak earn more money before she rela come back. Sad lah, tapi apa nak buat, the lure of money is stronger than everything else.

Anonymous said...

Kak Teh,

The favorite reason itu kampung girls duduk kat UK sebab dok belajar English!

In actual fact dok tunggu nak polish the VIPs tools kat sana.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Teh,

Just one coment over the suggestion made by the new Foreign Minister (must get consent from guardians for young women to travel) Many in Malaysia protested over this remark but for me, it is themost sensible and Islamic (given the fact that he was responding to Muslim victims).Many of us who understood where he was coming from felt sorry for him cos' no one stood up to support him.He was just observing the muhrim thingy in Islam esp for women.The gender bias thingy should never get into the picture cos' in this matter, safety is prioritised.

I thought I'd be brave and show my support to Dato Rais Yatim for such brilliant, culturally sensitive suggestion.

Kak Yah