By Charles Santiago
I brought up crucial questions about the Wang Kelian trafficking camp with the home minister at almost every parliamentary sitting in 2016 and also this year.
I wasn’t satisfied that all 12 police officers detained in connection with the mass graves were let off and instead, four undocumented migrants charged.
I never received a convincing reply from Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
The New Straits Times article exposing a massive cover-up involving the police clearly shows that my concerns hold water.
Kudos to the reporters who worked over two years to reveal that the police knew about the Wang Kelian death camps months before they went public with the information.
The team said they were privy to shocking information from the former police chief, Khalid Abu Bakar, which they can’t publish due to journalistic ethics.
This however opens up a can of worms as Zahid was quoted as saying the dozen policemen initially arrested in connection to the case were released due to lack of sufficient evidence to tie them to it.
Now we know this was a lie.
Why did the top cops bend over backwards to hush up the investigations? Who were they protecting?
The trafficking of the Rohingya was equally active on both sides of the Thai-Malaysia border.
But while hundreds stood trial in Thailand, only four were prosecuted in Malaysia.
NGOs and civil society rapped the police for shoddy investigations – it wasn’t possible for the police to have been in the dark as some trafficking victims had escaped into town and were handed over to the authorities after they were fed and clothed by the locals.
A 2015 report by Malaysia’s elite police, the Special Branch, noted that border authorities, including police and immigration officers, are corrupt.
“The Revolving Door”, a book published by Tenaganita in 2008 on modern-day slavery, had mentioned the trafficking camps along the Thai-Malaysia border.
And top activists in the NGO held meetings with the police to brief them about their findings.
The police turned a blind eye, just like they did in 2015.
The exposé by the New Straits Times couldn’t have been more timely.
As the police cannot be trusted to investigate themselves, it’s imminent that an independent commission is set up immediately to investigate the huge cover-up in Wang Kelian.
Police officers, other top ranking authorities and traffickers responsible for the death of more than a hundred Rohingya and Bangladeshis at the camps must face the law.
We certainly owe it to the families of those who lost their lives for the greed of money.
Charles Santiago is Klang MP.