Seven Myanmar migrant workers have died and two have been hospitalised after drinking bootleg alcohol in Malaysia in the past three weeks, according to the Kuala Lumpur-based charity Kathpone Free Funeral Service.
The poisoning cases started appearing on April 24, the group said.
“There have been seven deaths reported, and the charity helped provide funeral services and send the bodies back to Myanmar. Other victims were attended to by other charitable organisations based in Malaysia,” U San Win, chair of the group, said on Wednesday.
He said another two Myanmar citizens are being treated in hospital for poisoning.
The poisonings occurred in the Malaysian state of Perak, he said, and the state’s police and health authorities are investigating.
All seven Myanmar workers who died displayed symptoms of poisoning after drinking bootleg liquor with the brand names Kingpriests, Miludeer, and Marterns.
Such alcohol is sometimes produced using cheap ingredients that are not meant for human consumption, U San Win said.
Migrant workers often drink bootleg alcohol as it is cheaper and stronger than well-known brands.
In Malaysia, most shops run by Myanmar nationals sell bootleg alcohol, according to U San Win, who is also head of a migrant-assistance group formed by the Myanmar Embassy in Kuala Lumpur.
Dishonest businesses make money by producing cheap alcohol that contains dangerous chemicals, he said.
“I urge Myanmar workers in Malaysia to stick to products from established brands if they want to drink,” U San Win said.
In 2012, 35 Myanmar migrants died in Malaysia after drinking home-brewed alcohol, while in September 2018, up to 27 Myanmar workers died from home-brewed alcohol.