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Conmen and cheats: men who prey on vulnerable women
2/3/2011 1:38:15 PM
A former ex-pat reflects on her life in Miri.
It was to be expected that we would socialize with Bryn (not his real name). When you're living in a foreign country you gravitate to your own countrymen and there weren’t a lot of Australian’s living in Miri. Like 90% of the men working in the oil town, Bryn worked for Shell but he was an entrepreneur from way back and it wasn’t long before he opened his own bar.
In the 90’s you couldn’t open a business in Miri without taking on a Bumiputra partner. Bumiputra is the Malaysian term for the indigenous people of Malaysia, the Dayaks. It means son of the land but it was a daughter of the land that Bryn took on as his Bumiputra partner.
Already a victim, Rosie had been deserted by her husband and she was struggling to bring up six children without any financial assistance from her ex or the government. In Dayak culture the family bond is strong and when Bryn offered Rosie a job, as his live-in amah, her sister offered to look after the children.
Although Bryn had a wife and family back in Australia, it wasn’t long before he and Rosie were in a relationship. Imagine how she felt when Bryn told her about his plans to open a bar and offered her a partnership. For a poor uneducated woman with no prospects but a life of drudgery, it must have been like winning first prize in a lottery.
Once a cheat always a cheat and it wasn’t long before Bryn was cheating on Rosie. When she went back to her longhouse for Gawai (the Dayak harvest festival), Bryn took off for the duty free island of Labuan with Flora, a pretty young barmaid. The last thing Rosie did, before she set off in happy ignorance for a re-union with her children was to take in the large box addressed to Bryn that she found on the veranda.
A week later when Bryn returned the whole house ponged, blood had seeped from the box, dripped from the table and pooled on the floor. Someone had sent Bryn the severed head of a pig minus one ear. When he was a teenager Bryn had come off a motorbike and he’d lost his outer ear. You didn’t need to be Einstein to figure out who the pig represented!
That evening my partner and I went to Bryn’s for a few drinks and he told us about finding the pig’s head and showed us the blood-stained note he’d discovered at the bottom of the box. It warned him that if he continued playing around with Muslim women there’d be another head in a box and it also would only have one ear.
Unlike the guy in 'The godfather' who woke up with a horse's head in bed beside him, Bryn seemed unfazed.
Anyone, with any sense, would have got out of town. I mean this was the wild, wild East and I’d heard stories of ex-pats who had accidentally run down a child being hacked to death by the relatives.
I don’t know what else Bryn did to get on the wrong side of the locals but on two occasions gangsters broke into the premises and broke up the place. Maybe he had refused to pay protection money. Any way word got round. Work colleagues, frightened for their safety stopped patronizing the bar. Bills mounted up and Bryn did a runner leaving poor old Rosie with all the debts.
Last thing I heard Bryn had talked himself into a $300,000 job in Nigeria.
If you'd like to hear more about ex-pats and amahs you might enjoy my book: The White Amah. It's available on amazon and you can read an excerpt and reviews on my site:
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