Wang Kelian RCI ends, chairman says satisfied with information

Wang Kelian RCI chairman Arifin Zakaria says it is up to the government whether to make the report public or not.

PUTRAJAYA: The royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the discovery of human trafficking camps and mass graves in Wang Kelian concluded today, after gruelling proceedings spanning 17 days involving 48 witnesses.

RCI chairman and former chief justice Arifin Zakaria said the commission would now get down to business in preparing the report.

“The RCI is one of the methods for us to prepare the report, by gathering information from witnesses who had knowledge of what actually transpired in Wang Kelian.

“After today, we will have meetings to prepare the report, which will be presented to the King in early September, with our recommendations,” he told reporters after the close of proceedings today.

On whether the report will be made public, Arifin said that would be up to the government.

“That is not our prerogative. Based on the terms of reference, the RCI was established to prepare a report to the government.

“It is up to the discretion of the government. We will forward the report to them,” he said.

Arifin said he was satisfied with the information given by the witnesses.

“We have more or less exhausted whatever that is available to us. No, I don’t think we will be calling in any other witnesses.

“But generally, I am satisfied with whatever information that has been furnished to us,” he said, adding that police have tried their best to assist the panel.

The former chief justice said while he would have liked to get information from witnesses in Thailand, there was no cooperation from them.

“It is quite difficult, and we do not have the power to summon them,” he said.

The panel’s deputy chairman, former inspector-general of police Norian Mai, did not rule out the possibility of investigations into the incident being reopened.

“However, this would depend on our findings and discussions with other panel members,” he said.

Other members of the panel are Noorbahri Baharuddin, Razali Ismail, Junaidah Abd Rahman, Nazirah Hussain and Tan Seng Giaw.

The 139 mass graves and 28 abandoned camps were discovered at Bukit Wang Burma in Wang Kelian, near the Malaysia-Thailand border.

Over 100 skeletal remains, believed to be those of Rohingya refugees, were found in the graves.

The government at the time was criticised for lack of action against top officials. Although four individuals were charged in court, critics said these were small-time traffickers.