Wang Kelian: Where is the royal commission’s report?

A cage used for illegal immigrants found at a human-trafficking camp in Wang Kelian, near the Malaysia-Thailand border of Wang Kelian - File photograph: Hasnoor Hussain/The Malaysian Insider

Wang Kelian has for far too long been a blot on our Malaysian credibility. Yet the families and friends of the victims of those murdered are still waiting for the report, the Penang Stop Human Trafficking Campaign writes.

Five years ago, the Malaysian public were made aware of the death camps known as Wang Kelian on the Malaysia/Thailand border.

Figures often used state a total of 147 graves with 130 human skeletons were found. It was clear these camps had been used by human traffickers, and the Wang Kelian camps were quickly linked to similar camps on the Thailand side of the border.

It was apparent that the camps were part of the route used by human traffickers in their trade of human beings: the trade involving atrocious and systematic violence perpetrated against women, men and children.

In Thailand, major figures in Thai institutions and agencies were some time ago arrested and charged.

Not a single Malaysian has ever been brought to account in Malaysia, despite widespread scepticism that the camps could exist without official knowledge. Public concern intensified when the New Straits Times published the results of a special investigation which “revealed startling new evidence, which suggests a massive, coordinated cover-up” (New Straits Times, 20 December 2017).

Following the change in government, in January 2019 the Pakatan Harapan government announced the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry. By April it was announced the commission would be chaired by former Chief Justice Arifin Zakaria and former inspector general of police Norian Mai would be the deputy chairman. Five other members were appointed.

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The commission some time ago completed 17 days of hearings and at one point promised to send its findings by the end of September 2019.

This was delayed, with no explanation, until at last the then-Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin stated in January this year the commission had completed its report, and it had already been presented to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong. It was stated the report would be handed to the cabinet by the end of January.

So where is the report?

Many argued at the time of its formation the commission was nothing but a delaying tactic to avoid anyone ever being made accountable for the atrocities of the camps. Five years later, is this what we should believe? Or has the commission come up with a serious report and will the government publish it?

This is the only way the government will show the world it is committed to ensuring that anyone involved in the systematic murder, violation and exploitation of human beings will be brought to justice, no matter who they are.

Wang Kelian has for far too long been a blot on our Malaysian credibility. Yet we are still waiting. The families and friends of the victims of those murdered are still waiting.

How long more?

25 May 2020


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