[Editor's note, May 1, 11:50pm: The headline and excerpt of the article had been edited for clarity.]
Veteran getai singer and livestream host Wang Lei had previously offered a cash reward for her return to Malaysia, where the sum promised was increased from RM150,000 (S$47,685.54) initially to RM400,000 (S$127,161.43).
Suspected to be detained by illegal syndicates
Penang Front Party's president Patrick Ooi Khar Giap told Nanyang Siang Pau that he has since received information from a source in Myanmar that confirmed Chia was detained there.
Ooi added that illegal syndicates have temporarily confined her instead of making her work, as they believe she is a cash cow that can be exchanged for money since people are offering rewards for her return to Malaysia.
In a video published on Apr. 25, Ooi claimed the woman was brought from Thailand to Myanmar and implied that she might have fallen victim to a job scam that promised a cushy job in Myanmar with a salary of RMB10,000 to RMB20,000 (S$2,083.35 to S$4,166.70).
Ooi said Chia has been quoted a price for her release and that other illegal syndicates might even buy out the group that is currently holding her to demand a ransom from the family.
High cash reward complicating matters
However, without explicitly referring to Wang, Ooi said the high cash reward that is on offer has further complicated the situation.
He explained that while rescuing people from such situations requires money, it usually does not require such a large amount.
On Apr. 27, Ooi also welcomed those whose friends or relatives have found themselves in similar job scam situations to reach out to him with their information and photographs in order to ascertain if they are also detained in the same area as Chia.
According to the Facebook post, hundreds of people are located within the Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar meet.
The first batch of more than 10 people have returned to Malaysia and more arrangements to repatriate others will be made in early May.
Ooi shared that the price to release a person ranged from RM7,000 (S$2,221.19) to RM8,000 (S$2,538.50) previously, but it has been raised to RM15,000 (S$4,759.69) per person now.
On Apr. 5, Chia allegedly sent a lengthy message to her mother, revealing that she was struggling with her insurance job and had resorted to seeking a high-paying job that was "rather far" from home.
Chia has remained uncontactable since Apr. 5 as her phone has been switched off, China Press reported.
Her family suspects that Chia has fallen victim to a foreign job scam.
In a livestream video, Wang, who is apparently only helping to locate the missing woman by tapping on his huge audience, appealed to his viewers for information about Chai's whereabouts and also urged Chia herself to return home soon.
He even offered her a job in Singapore or Malaysia to help her with her financial struggles.
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Top images via China Press and Wang Lei's Facebook page.