PETALING JAYA - Another case of a Malaysian working illegally overseas has been exposed.
This time, it is a 22-year-old diploma holder in marine studies who chose to work in South Korea to earn more.
Tragedy, however, befell Afiq when he had an accident that left him with a serious knee injury. What's worse for the graduate of a private institution here was that he did not receive immediate medical attention.
"At first, my employers told me the hospital was not open due to a public holiday, so I had to bear with the pain for a week.
He said they had earlier pledged to bear the costs of his treatment which included an operation, but changed their minds after realising that the amount would be high.
"They only paid for the medical checks and MRI, then told me to go back to Malaysia and return to work after I recover.
"I didn't know my rights as a worker. I was only trying to survive the pain before returning to Malaysia.
"Life in South Korea is not as wonderful as depicted in the Winter Sonata series," said Afiq, who worked in South Korea under a tourist visa.
However, Afiq's luck changed for the better when he bumped into a Malaysian human rights activist known as Z Hilmi at the Kampungku Restaurant in Myeong-dong, Seoul, a few hours before he was scheduled to fly back to Malaysia.
The activist advised Afiq to start a claim against his employers so that they will be held responsible for the accident.
Over the two weeks that Afiq stayed at a guesthouse run by the activist, he was admitted to the hospital to undergo an operation with the costs borne by his employers.
"If not for the chance meeting with the activist, I wouldn't have known that my case could be contested in the Labour Court," he added.