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Family of Dead Maid in Malaysia Wants Answers

This picture taken on January 19, 2011 shows a young woman reading advertisements for "maids wanted" outside a shopping mall in Kuala Lumpur.

Family members of a Cambodian maid who died in Malaysia last year say they want further investigation into her death.

Oup Sok Khoun, 47, whose remains were repatriated on Saturday, died in December 2011. A Malaysian medical report says she died of lung infection, but her cousin, Chea Mony, 54, said authorities have not provided an official death certificate and the report is not credible.

“We don’t know exactly how she died,” he said. The family wants further investigation and plans to file suit for compensation, he said.

Representatives for VC Manpower, the employment company that sent Oup Sok Khoun to Malaysia, were not available for comment. Nor were government officials.

But rights groups say Cambodian women looking to work as domestic labor in Malaysia face myriad dangers, and last year Prime Minister Hun Sen banned the practice, pending a review of the country’s recruitment companies and safeguards for women.

At least 12 Cambodians were reported dead in Malaysia in 2011, nine of them housemaids and three of them factory workers.

Mu Sochua, a lawmaker for the opposition Sam Rainsy Party who has been lobbying for better conditions and protections of workers in Malyasia, said Oup Sok Khoun’s death raises questions.

“I don’t believe Oup Sok Khoun died from exhaustion without an illness,” she said, refuting a VC Manpower explanation for the death.

But she also questioned the Malaysian medical report. Why, she asked, was the woman working until she died, if she had a lung infection?