KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 20 — The federal government must explain suggestions of collusion between law enforcement and the people-smuggling rings behind the mass graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis, said the National Human Right Society (Hakam).
Citing a New Straits Times special report today based on the discovery first reported by Malay Mail in 2015, Hakam chairman Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan said the claims of complicity, incompetence, and a possible cover-up merited a formal investigation by the Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
“After the Malay Mail exposé in 2015, Hakam and the Malaysian Bar each submitted a memorandum to Suhakam urging that an independent inquiry be conducted into the discovery of the death camps, allegations of human trafficking, torture and mass killings.
“However, we were made to understand that Suhakam’s budget was dramatically reduced in 2015 and 2016, which made it difficult for them to employ resources to initiate an inquiry,” she said in a statement.
She also demanded that the federal government address the insinuations of impropriety and irregularity contained in the NST’s report, saying it must at least explain why the discovery of the death camps were not publicised sooner.
Ambiga then pressed Putrajaya to restore the commission’s funding to allow it to pursue the investigation.
The former Malaysian Bar president also commended the NST and Malay Mail for the coverage of the matter, saying Malaysians might have never learnt of the atrocities otherwise.
“NST’s exclusive report on the secrets of Wang Kelian carried out by a courageous special team over two years is truly worthy of credit.
“Just as is the Malay Mail team who first broke the story on Wang Kelian. This is investigative journalism at its best because it serves the truth,” she said.
Ambiga’s demands were preceded by calls from other groups for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to be convened on the death camps in Perlis.
The discovery of Wang Kelian death camps in 2015 is considered among the worst instances of human trafficking in Malaysia.
Police discovered 139 graves of human trafficking victims in 28 detention camps deep in the jungle of Perlis near the Thai border that year.
In its report published today, the NST team said they encountered difficulty in getting answers from the authorities, particularly top police officials whom they depicted as elusive and reluctant, even alleging that they were “stonewalled” in their pursuit of information.