PUTRAJAYA: The Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into the discovery of mass graves and human trafficking camps in Wang Kelian heard today the Thai authorities indirectly encouraged the movement of illegal immigrants into Malaysia by setting up smaller temporary settlements along the Thai side of the border.
“That is based on the information we received,” the seventh witness at the RCI, ASP Jamaluddin Shah Mohd Jawan, who was the acting head of the Special Branch in Padang Besar, Perlis, said.
He also said many illegal immigrants detained in Padang Besar were former immigration detainees in Thailand.
“The detainees in Thailand were divided (into groups).The excess were sent away to detention centres in other districts. If there was not enough space for them, they would be sent to the southern side,” Jamaluddin said.
“There is a big possibility that this (spillover) was used as an excuse to bring them from Nakhom Si Thammarat to the Sadao district near the border and then to Padang Besar for them to eventually be moved into Malaysia.
“The Thai police and army had set up these temporary settlements that were very near to the Malaysian border,” he said, adding that these camps were set up to station the excess illegal immigrants.
Jamaluddin said the temporary settlements were set up at the Sadao district, at Kampung Teluk near Genting Perah and Tangga 100.
He said the settlements appeared to be similar to those found in Wang Kelian.
“The graves and tent structures were the same as those found in Malaysia,” said Jamaluddin, who had visited some of the camps in Thailand.
He also said many illegal immigrants interviewed by the Special Branch had said they came from the temporary camps in Thailand.
“But the way they got in, we do not know.”
Jamaluddin said he did not know of any Malaysian authorities who were directly involved in human trafficking, adding that they were mostly Thais.
He said evidence found in a raid on a suspected human trafficking camp at Wang Burma hill on Jan 19, 2015 led to the discovery of other possible human trafficking sites.
It also resulted in the discovery of 26 items of human remains in a separate abandoned camp at Wang Burma hill in August 2015.
He said he received items seized in the raid on Jan 19, including a notebook, a handphone, SIM cards, DVDs and CDs, from ASP Azizie Mohd.
Azizie, who was a disciplinary officer with Batallion 3 of the General Operations Forces, had passed the items to him on Jan 29, 2015.
Jamaluddin said that from the evidence found on Jan 19 and information from other sources, they believed there may have been more camps such as the one found on Wang Burma hill.
These camps were suspected to be at Wang Perah and Taman Negara Negeri Perlis.
He said joint operations by the Special Branch and VAT 69 commandos from the Royal Malaysian Police, carried out from March 10 to 15, 2015, led to ther discovery of 18 more camps.
VAT 69 also arrested two Thai nationals and three Myanmar nationals.
Jamaluddin said that on a follow-up mission to Wang Burma hill in August that year, he found tents set up with wooden structures and canvas. In the tents were six items of human remains.
About 50m from the tents were what appeared to be 20 grave sites “scattered haphazardly around the area”, he told the inquiry.
He said human trafficking crimes had been going on in Wang Kelian since the end of 2013.