Wang Kelian RCI: GOF men say told to destroy photographs of camps

Witness ASP MA Joeking is pictured during the second day of the Wang Kelian Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) hearing in Putrajaya April 18, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Witness ASP MA Joeking is pictured during the second day of the Wang Kelian Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) hearing in Putrajaya April 18, 2019. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

PUTRAJAYA, April 18 — A General Operations Force (GOF) officer involved in the discovery of the human trafficking camps in Kedah said he and his men were ordered to destroy all private images of the site, during today’s hearing of the Royal Commission of Inquiry on the matter.

Assistant Superintendent M. MA Joeking, the commander of Company B from the third battalion of GOF’s Northern Brigade, told the RCI that his commanding officer had instructed that no personal photographs of the camps atop Wang Burma hill may be kept.

However, he said this order only came months after the discovery of the human trafficking camps at the start of 2015.

He revealed this when questioned by conducting officers Khairul Anuar Abd Halim and Saiful Hazmi Mohd Saad during today’s hearing.

“There was a time between March to April 2015 where I got instructions from the commanding officer ordering anyone within the team to destroy any photos in their possession of photos which were related to Wang Kelian.

“He had asked for the photos to only be stored at the battalion main office,” he said.

Joeking, who explained how his officers of Battalion 3 had discovered the camps on January 18 and January 19 that year, could not explain why such an order was given.

During proceedings earlier, he named Superintendent Wan Hamzah Wan Kadir as the then commanding officer.

He also noted the order came months after his team was deployed to destroy the camps on January 21 that year, under instructions from the then Perlis deputy police chief, in the operations that unearthed the infamous mass grave in the area.

Today is the second day of public hearings in the RCI chaired by former Chief Justice Tun Arifin Zakaria and assisted by former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai, along with six others.

Joeking during today’s session said he felt the operations which unearthed the campsites could be considered successful, as they managed to rescue some 38 foreign victims of trafficking.

This was despite members of the panel disagreeing with his view, saying it was a failure as the victims were apprehended and not the perpetrators.

“To me it was a success because at that time we had not known it was part of a syndicate, with initial information only stating there were temporary camps, found not being sufficient.

“With that information, we moved in to first survey, and then go on the offensive if need be,” he said.

He then added that it was only after making the arrests and carrying out interrogations that police found out, from the trafficking victims, the camps were part of a bigger trafficking syndicate.

“There was a foreigner, who could speak broken English and Malay, who told me they were taken by agents and promised salaries of around RM2,000, but were asked more money once they arrived here.

“The victim told me they had arrived here via boat and then trekked through the jungle, where those only able to come up with the cash would be allowed into Malaysia,” Joeking said.

Joeking, when questioned on the issue of items seized during survey operations, said he could not recall fellow officer Inspector Mohd Mossadique Azni surrendering any items to him.

However, during yesterday’s inquiry Mohd Mossadique had told the inquiry that he was instructed to hold on to the exhibits after he had informed Joeking about the confiscated items.

Joeking, when asked on usual practices, then said it was considered normal for such operations to be completed without any exhibits or items seized from the task.