Tenaganita dubious over Wang Kelian RCI

Over 100 graves and 28 abandoned camps were discovered in Wang Kelian in May 2015. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Human rights group Tenaganita has urged the government to provide the public with a detailed explanation of the work to be done by the royal commission charged with investigating the human trafficking case connected with the discovery of death camps in Wang Kelian three years ago.

Speaking to FMT, Tenaganita director Aegile Fernandez said she was concerned over the effectiveness of the probe considering suspected cover-up attempts in police investigations into the case and the possibility that the government would be keen to protect certain individuals as well as Malaysia’s international reputation.

“It is hopeful that they have set up the royal commission of inquiry (RCI),” she said. “But how is it going to take place? Who is going to be called? These are very important questions we need to ask.”

She said the panel might find it difficult to get enough witnesses to testify because many of the trafficked persons who survived the death camps had resettled outside Malaysia.

Last Thursday, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the commission was expected to take six months to complete its probe. He announced that former chief justice Arifin Zakaria would head the eight-member panel and that former inspector-general of police Norian Mai would assist him.

The other five members, named yesterday, are former head of prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Chambers Noorbahri Baharuddin; Human Rights Commission of Malaysia chairman Razali Ismail; former head of research in the Attorney-General’s Chambers Junaidah Abdul Rahman; former Malaysian ambassador to Thailand Nazirah Hussin and former deputy chairman of the Public Accounts Committee Dr Tan Seng Giaw.

Another human rights group, Lawyers for Liberty, has questioned the suitability of Arifin for the job, alleging that he made many decisions during his tenure that were abhorrent to human rights.

Fernandez voiced a similar concern.

“At the inquiry, we want to know who were the top people who were involved in this whole market of human smuggling.”

In May 2015, 139 graves and 28 abandoned camps were found on top of Bukit Wang Burma in Wang Kelian, a town on Malaysia’s northern border.

Police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission arrested 12 policemen shortly after the discovery. They were subsequently released. The authorities said there was a lack of strong evidence against them.

Fernandez said it was possible that the authorities were trying to hide something. “Were they released because a whole can of worms would have come out if there had been a trial?”