Oversight body dropped probe into police misconduct after meeting with top brass, RCI told

Former NSTP investigative editor Farrah Naz Abd Karim.

PUTRAJAYA: The 23rd witness at the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the mass graves at Wang Kelian today said the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) had decided not to investigate the alleged police misconduct in the discovery of human trafficking camps and graves in Perlis after a closed-door meeting with the top management of the police force.

Former New Straits Times Press (NSTP) investigative editor Farrah Naz Abd Karim also said the EAIC had supposedly secured CCTV footage of a top police officer whom she did not name receiving money from a suspected human trafficker.

However, she added that this was hearsay as she had not seen the footage herself and was unable to verify it.

“You would have to ask EAIC yourself,” she told the inquiry, adding that some members of the commission were unhappy and had quit after being told that there would be no investigation of the matter.

Farrah had co-authored an article with NST reporter Aliza Shah Muhammad Shah published on Dec 20, 2017, alleging that the police discovered the human trafficking camps in January 2015, not May 2015 as officially announced. She said this pointed to a “coordinated cover-up”.

She told the inquiry that she later received an invitation by email from the EAIC, asking her to assist in its investigation into possible police misconduct at the Malaysia-Thailand border. The meeting was held on Jan 23, 2018.

“They (EAIC) asked us why we alleged a coordinated cover-up, so we revealed even things we did not publish (in the news report),” she said.

This included a claim that the former Perlis police chief purportedly learnt about the camps much earlier, but had asked former top cop Khalid Abu Bakar to “hold it first and let him retire in peace”.

Farrah said at the end of the two-hour session, EAIC officials had told her that there were enough grounds to open an investigation.

Two days later, however, she was told that the EAIC had met with the top management of the police, including former inspector-general of police (IGP) Mohamad Fuzi Harun, during a courtesy visit.

At the meeting, she said, EAIC chairman A Aziz A Rahim had apparently briefed the IGP about their discussion two days earlier.

“I felt betrayed… because I told them (EAIC) in confidence,” she added.

She said right after EAIC’s meeting with the police, the chairman had issued an order for the case to be dropped.

“EAIC wasn’t supposed to look into this,” she said. “I think if they had, this RCI wouldn’t have happened.”

Farrah also said she was told that the EAIC had been looking into border issues at the Malaysia-Thailand border for years.

She also told the inquiry that she had called Fuzi on Dec 21, 2017 for a reaction to her exclusive published a day earlier.

“He didn’t want to commit,” she said. “The chat lasted for half an hour. In the end, he told me to call back in the evening.

“Later that day, I got a call from the higher-ups, telling me to lay off Fuzi as he didn’t want to entertain me. He would only talk to my superiors, who would then convey his message to me. So I waited for the response.”

She also claimed Fuzi had told her that he “cannot do much because Khalid was my former boss”.

She said the instructions given to NSTP after receiving Fuzi’s response was that the story had to be published verbatim, and that there would be no follow-up reports.

She said throughout the course of her investigation into the camps and graves, she received a few anonymous leads in 2015 which had revealed startling information.

This included one anonymous call on her direct office line, an envelope of police reports and pictures sent to her father’s house, and another envelope filled with documents suggesting a cover-up, including a note on why the IGP had purportedly lied about the mid-January discovery.

The RCI was called to look into the discovery of mass graves and human trafficking camps in Wang Kelian, Perlis in 2015.

Former chief justice Arifin Zakaria leads the inquiry panel. The other panel members are Norian Mai, Noorbahri Baharuddin, Razali Ismail, Junaidah Abd Rahman, Nazirah Hussain and Tan Seng Giaw. Yusran Shah Yusof is the secretary of the RCI.