Wang Kelian RCI: Day Five

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RCI to review credibility of earlier witness.

  • ASP Joeking arrested twice by graft-busters for alleged smuggling of diesel, rice and ketum leaves, currently suspended from duty pending investigations by MACC
  • Retired officer Sivanganam’s alleged cold-storage treatment because of “unprofessional behavior”, not discovery of graves
  • Ex-cop denies instruction to destroy camp to erase evidence
  • Khalid gave specific orders to stall investigations into the discovery of human trafficking camps and gravesites in Wang Kelian

The royal commission of inquiry (RCI) into the mass graves and human trafficking camps in Wang Kelian was today told that one of the police officers who earlier gave evidence is under suspension following a graft probe.

He was allegedly twice probed and arrested by the MACC.

The commander of Battalion 3 of the General Operations Force (GOF), ACP Wan Hamzah Wan Kadir, said ASP Joeking Marian Anthony, the commander of Company B at the battalion, had been under the radar of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) since 2011 and was detained for questioning in 2015 and 2019.

Joeking was the fifth witness to take the stand at the RCI called by the government to find out the truth about the mass graves discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis, three years ago.

Annabelle Lee/Malaysiakini

During his testimony on April 18, Joeking had claimed that he was instructed by his commanding officer to delete photographs on the Wang Kelian operations and that the photographs could only be stored at the battalion.

He had said that Wan Hamzah was his immediate superior at the time.

Joeking also testified that he received specific instructions from the then-Perlis deputy police chief to destroy the camps, although no reason was given.

Polis Diraja Malaysia/Facebook

He later instructed his team to stop burning or destroying anything after discovering several graves in the area.

The deputy police chief in question, Md Zukir Md Isa, had earlier today testified at the RCI in which he claimed that the instruction to clear the camps was not to eliminate the evidence, but to prevent it from being used by undocumented migrants in the future.

“The instruction was not to clear the camp overall but only some parts of it.

Anne Muhammad/Malaysiakini

“I did not intend to destroy the evidence. I only asked to clear some parts such as the canvas covering the camp shelters (kanvas bahagian pelindung) and the water storage. The intention was to ensure that they were not being used again,” the retired cop and 13th witness said,

On March 27, Suhakam and the NGO Fortify Rights in their report stated that the authority’s action in clearing or destroying the camp had reduced the number of evidence to facilitate investigations.

The report also raised the issue with the four-month delay in exhuming bodies at the site. which complicated the forensic experts’ efforts to ascertain the cause of death.

On the delay in the investigation, Zukir admitted that there’s no coordination among police during the preliminary investigation.

He said Bukit Aman had its own reasons on why the investigation was not expedited.

“As far as I can remember, during a media conference by the former Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar, when asked on why police were slow in their action, Khalid said that they need more time to inspect the area,” he said.

In the previous hearing, a former cop told that he was advised against conducting operations in the area, while another witness said he was instructed to halt investigations after the finding of the first body at the peak of Bukit Wang Burma on March 6, 2015.

According to the 16th witness, former Perlis police chief Datuk Zulhaznam Harun, he rang up Khalid to alert him as soon as he himself was briefed on the situation in Wang Kelian by Zukir on January 20, 2015.

Zulhaznam said he informed Khalid through the phone call of the discovery of camps and structures that resembled makeshift graves while updating him that 38 illegal immigrants were arrested from a survey operation conducted on the site the day before.

“The exact words he used was ‘hold on’, saying more research and preparations were required,” said Zulhaznam.

“He (Khalid) also said the case would have a big impact on the country as it also involved foreign nationals,” he said,

Meanwhile, Wan Hamzah, the 14th witness, also denied claims by another witness, DSP Sivanganam Thirumugam, that he had been put in cold storage following the discovery of the graves.

FMT

Sivanganam, who was the ground commander overseeing operations in the Wang Kelian and Wang Burma raid, previously told the inquiry that his superior called “Dato’ Nasir” had forbidden him from joining in any other operation of the GOF after that incident.

He told the RCI that prior to being taken off operations, he had written a report detailing information from a source about the involvement of locals in the smuggling of immigrants through the border.

Wan Hamzah denied that Sivanganam was taken off operations due to the discovery of graves or his report, saying there was no “black and white letter” to this effect.

However, he said an official letter was sent to Joeking and a few other officers whom he did not name, restricting them from operations at the border.

He said the restriction on Joeking was related to the detention of the latter by MACC on March 2, 2015.

“MACC had come to Battalion 3 headquarters in Bidor, Perak, to arrest ASP Joeking, four other senior officers and a few officers. I was the witness, and it had nothing to do with Wang Burma,” he said.

He said the arrest was said to be related to the smuggling of diesel, rice and ketum.

He added that Joeking was arrested again in March 2019 and that he had been suspended pending the outcome of the investigation.

He claimed that Joeking and Sivanganam had had “problems” ever since he took over as commander of Battalion 3 of the GOF in October 2014.

Mukhriz Hazim

“I received information that DSP Sivanganam and his ‘friends’ were involved in some problems. I felt this was credible and I met with my commander Nasir Ramli (from the Northern Brigade) for discussion.”

He said it was then decided that Sivanganam, Joeking and a few other officers would be transferred out from the GOF.

“In Nov 26, 2014, the commander wrote a letter and sent it to Bukit Aman. The Wang Burma case did not even exist then. We just limited their involvement,” Wan Hamzah told the RCI panel.

He said, Sivanganam’s report was taken seriously by his department and the intelligence unit at the brigade was told to be alert.

In May 2015, some 139 graves containing 106 skeletal remains, believed to be of Rohingyas, and 28 abandoned human trafficking camps on top of Bukit Wang Burma in Wang Kelian, Perlis, were discovered.

An RCI into the matter was formed earlier this year, headed by former chief justice Ariffin Zakaria.

He is being assisted by former inspector-general of police Norian Mai, along with five commissioners – former ambassador to Thailand Nazirah Hussin, former Public Accounts Committee deputy chairperson Tan Seng Giaw, former chief prosecutor Noorbahri Baharuddin, former diplomat Razali Ismail, and former head of research at the Attorney-General’s Chambers Junaidah Abdul Rahman.

The inquiry has been given until September this year to prepare its report

On its fifth day today, the RCI decided that the credibility of fifth witness Joeking should be reviewed.


Earlier reports:

Apr 23, Wang Kelian RCI: Day Four

Apr 22, Wang Kelian RCI: Day Three

Apr 19, Wang Kelian RCI: Suspected Involvement of Malaysians in Human Trafficking

Apr 17, Wang Kelian RCI: Day One