Friday, June 03, 2011
The Malaysian authorities yesterday got the 13 stranded seamen out of a Bangladeshi ship remaining seized in Port Klang in Malaysia for over a year and took the ship under their custody after the ship's owner company failed to repatriate the sailors. "We have got them out on humanitarian grounds…. their living conditions turned very bad and all of them have had emotional or health problems," Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) Commissioner James Nayagam told The Daily Star over phone yesterday. Suhakam intervened in the issue following reports by The Star, a Malaysian daily, in late May. The port authorities seized the 1,690-tonne Bangladeshi ship named MV Banga Biraj with 13 seamen on May 4 last year following a case filed against the ship's owner company HRC Shipping on charges that Banga Biraj damaged a crane in 2008. The 13 seamen, however, had not been working in the ship last year when the incident occurred.On May 27, Suhakam initiated a meeting with the port authorities, officials of HRC Shipping, and the seamen when HRC Shipping was asked to repatriate the seamen immediately. Kazi Nurul Alam, an official of HRC Shipping, said the repatriation would be done by June 3, but it failed. Against this backdrop, James Nayagam, its lawyers, port officials and police went to the ship and got the seamen out of it and sheltered them in a house. The issue will be taken to the labour court which will decide on their repatriation, said Nayagam hoping that it would be done in two weeks. A Malaysian individual came forward to finance their repatriation, he added.
MV Banga BirajEarlier, HRC Shipping was informed that the seamen would be provided with their nine months' of pending salaries by selling the ship if the company does not arrange for it. "The ship is now under the custody of Port Klang authority. It will sell the ship and pay salaries to the seamen if the court orders so," Nayagam said. Musleh Uddin Ahmed, chief officer of the ship, said HRC Shipping had assured them of replacing them by Myanmarese seamen, but that has not happened until now. "The company is cheating with us and our families who are suffering a lot," he said. Contacted, HRC Shipping General Manager Captain Shahjahan Siraj from Chittagong said he was unaware of the updates as he has been on leave, though he said the company was supposed to recruit Myanmarese seamen and repatriate the Bangladeshis.