3:05 am - Saturday June 24, 2017

M’sian stranded in Cambodia for 24 years finally reaches home

download (5)MO, 21/5/2017, KOTA KINABALU – Mohd Zulkifli Jefri stepped foot on Kota Kinabalu soil at 11.30am yesterday after being away from home for 24 years.

Stranded in Cambodia, where he had gone for work and was unable to leave due to a lack of documentation for almost a quarter of a century, Mohd Zulkifli recently made a final attempt at coming home, and succeeded. He said that he managed to re-enter Malaysia via Bukit Kayu Hitam at the Malaysia-Thailand border, and stayed at a friend’s house in Alor Star for 40 days.

“Twenty-four years is such a long time. I never thought that I could still return to Sabah but it all happened because of God,” the native of Tambisan, Lahad Datu, told reporters who were waiting for him at the airport. Mohd Zulkifli had gone to Koh Kong Province, Cambodia in 1993, along with 14 other Malaysians when a Malaysian-owned timber company obtained the tender for logging in the region. However, in 1995, due to political turmoil in Cambodia, the company ceased operations and his employer disappeared, along with Mohd Zulkifli’s travel documents. With no travel documents, he became an illegal immigrant in that country, moving from one forest to another, for fear of arrest by the authorities. He eked out a living by chopping wood for meagre wages.

In 2002, he went to the Malaysian Embassy in Phnom Penh to ask for assistance to return to Malaysia. However, the process took so long that he ended up penniless, and he abandoned his plans to return home. However, in March this year, after traveling for 1,400km from Koh Kong by car and a rented motorcycle, he finally arrived at the Bukit Kayu Hitam border before entering Malaysia. “I am really grateful to the Raja Muda Perlis (Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Ibni Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Jamalullail) for his help. Through his private secretary, I was assisted in obtaining my MyKad,” he said.

Filed in: Luar Negara, Nasional, Negeri Di Bawah Bayu, Topik Pilihan

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