Wang Kelian RCI: GOF officer taken off field duty after filing report alleging authorities’ collusion

S. Sivanganam 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
S. Sivanganam 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 was taken off field duty after he filed an incident report alleging authorities’ involvement in the Wang Kelian human trafficking and mass graves incident, the Royal Commission of Inquiry heard today.

Former deputy superintendent S. Sivanganam, who was the deputy commanding officer of the third battalion of GOF’s Northern Brigade at the time and is now retired, told the inquiry he adhered to the instructions without question or prejudice.

“After this operation, I was forbidden to return to that operation, and after a month I was told I am not to go for the Wang Kelian operations.

“I did not question them, the commander instructed (me) not to go for the next operation.

“I don’t know why, when instructions (come) from up there, we dare not question why, we just follow the instructions,” he explained, adding that Datuk Mohammad Nasir Ramli was North Brigade Commander at that time.

Sivanganam, the sixth witness to testify in the inquiry, was responding to questions posed to him by Conducting Officers Khairul Anuar Abd Halim and Saiful Hazmi Mohd Saad.

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

Sivanganam report, which was read out and submitted as an exhibit today, detailed information surrounding the alleged collusion of locals with the suspected traffickers, with him naming a prominent middle-man called Aziz or Azim.

The report submitted by him detailed how the middle-man had assisted the syndicate by colluding with members of enforcement agencies to allow them to transport trafficked individuals to different parts of Malaysia.

The middle-man was described in the report as a local shop owner living in Wang Kelian, who suffered from a skin condition, and was part of the logistics assistance being afforded to the syndicates.

Sivanganam had said the incriminating information was supplied to him via an anonymous tipoff phone call, a day after the human traffickers’ transit camps were discovered.

It also included the source admitting to being approached by the middle-man who had tried to persuade the caller to work for the syndicate.

Sivanganam said the findings of his report were submitted on Jan 22 to the Perlis and Kedah Chief Police offices, the National Security Council, the Human Rights Commission, the Perlis and Kedah Border Intelligence Unit and the GOF Northern Brigade’s Commander’s office.

When asked if he had taken action once armed with the information given to him, he said it was not his role to initiate further investigations.

Sivanganam said further investigations pertaining to his incident report was the prerogative of the police district headquarters and its Criminal Investigations Department, saying his loyalty was to his Brigade Commander as a member of the GOF.

“I am more responsible to my commander and I did file my report to the police chief of Perlis, is it my responsibility to inform them?

“I cannot surpass my brigade because my operations come under the Northern Brigade, otherwise I will be asked why I didn’t report to them then,” he answered when asked why he had not made sure the information was being acted upon.

Sivanganam added that he was unaware if any action was indeed taken following his report, saying he went on pre-retirement leave soon after the findings were filled.

The retired officer also weighed in on orders given by the then Perlis Deputy Police Chief to destroy the found campsites upon its discovery, saying it was imperative to carry out investigations first.

“I would have done further investigations to find out whether a syndicate is involved, and whether there were any more camps, or (if) it is still active.

“There are so many findings we can find,” he added.

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