Former top cop Tan Sri Norian Mai was named as deputy chairman of the royal inquiry panel to probe the mass graves discovery and human trafficking activity in Wang Kelian, Perlis.
Norian Mai will assist former chief justice, Tun Arifin Zakaria, who will lead the seven-member commission to investigate procedures or any officers “deemed necessary” to uncover the perpetrators, among others, and to make recommendations for action.
(L-R) Arifin Zakaria, Norian Mai, Tan Seng Giaw.
Other members of the RCI are former chief prosecutor, Datuk Noorbahri Baharuddin; current Suhakam chief commissioner Tan Sri Razali Ismail; former head of research at the Attorney General’s Chambers, Datuk Junaidah Abdul Rahman; former ambassador to Thailand, Datuk Nazirah Hussin; and former Kepong DAP member of parliament Dr Tan Seng Giaw.
Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said that although the RCI was formed years after the events at Wang Kelian, it was better late than never.
“It’s late but not too late. If it involves sovereignty and our image, we need to do something. I think it won’t be said that Malaysia doesn’t care or does nothing about this,” he said.
The royal commission of inquiry is expected to take six months to complete investigations.
In May 2015, 139 graves and 28 abandoned human trafficking camps were found on top of Bukit Wang Burma in Wang Kelian, which is located on the Malaysia-Thailand border.
Meanwhile, Arifin today defended his record in the judiciary against those who opposed his appointment as head of the RCI.
“My past judgments speak for themselves. I interpret the law according to my understanding,” he said.
Arifin was responding to reporters when asked about criticism by social groups of his appointment to the royal commission of inquiry.
Rights group Lawyers for Liberty had expressed concern over Zakaria’s appointment.
Its adviser N Surendran said Arifin had made several decisions during his tenure as chief justice that received strong criticism from constitutional and human rights lawyers, as well as opposition leaders at the time.
Surendran said Arifin’s track record included his decision in favour of Barisan Nasional’s Zambry Abdul Kadir in the Perak menteri besar crisis, and his role in leading the Federal Court bench which upheld the validity of the Sedition Act 1948 in the case of law professor Azmi Sharom.
He also cited Arifin’s role in upholding the sodomy conviction of PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim, and his advice to the king that Raus Sharif and Zulkefli Ahmad Makinudin be appointed as additional judges in the Federal Court.
Arifin said that he has a clear conscience over his decisions in the past.
“You can’t change people’s perceptions, but as far as I’m concerned, we acted according to the law with clear consciences,” he said.