Retired GOF assistant commander put in cold storage until retirement for reporting on suspected involvement of Malaysians in human trafficking activities.
- List of Wang Kelian masterminds sent to cops
- GOF men told to destroy photos of camps
A retired General Operations Force (GOF) assistant commander said he was forbidden from going out on operations after reporting on the suspected involvement of Malaysians in human trafficking activities in Wang Kelian.
S Sivanganam told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) that he was barred from going on operations till the day he retired in July 2016.
He added that he did not dare question the instruction from his superiors, when asked by panel member Dr Tan Seng Giaw if he knew the reason.
In the report dated Jan 22, 2015, submitted to his commander and carbon copied to then Perlis police chief, Sivanganam stated that he received a tip-off from an anonymous caller claiming a person by the name of Aziz or Azip was the middleman for the Thai and Malaysian syndicates involved in human trafficking.
The caller also gave a list of eight other villagers involved in transporting illegal migrants, but did not give their full names.
“I only verified if the suspect who was said to be the middleman really existed,” he said.
Sivanganam (left) and Insp Mohd Mossadique Azni (second from right).
Sivanganam said the individual operated a shop at a business arcade near the CIQ (Customs, Immigration and Quarantine) Complex in Perlis.
He said he submitted the report to higher authorities as he felt there was basis for further investigation but was not aware if this was done.
“No one contacted me except Bukit Aman in 2016 and later Suhakam,” he said.
Sivanganam said the list bearing names of individuals suspected of masterminding and bringing illegal immigrants to Wang Kelian in Perlis was handed over to the authorities for further action.
He said the information was passed on to the police chiefs of Perlis and Kedah, the Kedah-Perlis Border Intelligence Unit and PGA Battalion Intelligence Unit 3, after it was received from a source via a telephone call.
The source, who wanted to be identified only as a resident of Wang Kelian, told Sivanganam that locals cooperated with a syndicate to send illegal immigrants from Bukit Wang Burma to other places in the country.
Sivanganam, however, was unsure if any action was taken after the list (of individuals involved in the syndicate) was submitted to the relevant parties on January 22, 2015.
This was because he was no longer allowed to return to the site of the mass graves and transit camps as his period of duty there ended after a month.
Asked why he was not allowed to return to work in the area, Sivanganam said it was an order from his superior known as “Datuk Nasir” who was then the northern brigade commander.
RCI panellist and former IGP Tan Sri Norian Mai queried Sivanganam why he claimed in his report that the camp was suspected to be in operation for six months while other officers estimated three years.
Sivanganam said he had asked a Senoi Praaq (an orang asli police unit) officer’s view, as they were good at determining this based on the cuts on trees at the camp.
On Jan 19, 2015, Assistant Superintendent M MA Joeking headed a surveillance mission into the jungle after receiving information about the camps and possible illicit activities there.
His officer Mohd Mossadique Azni, who led a smaller 10-member team into the actual camps, later informed him that people at the camps had detected their presence and most of them escaped before the team arrived.
The next day, Joeking received specific instructions from then-Perlis deputy police chief to “musnahkan kem tersebut” (destroy the camps) but was not given a reason.
On Jan 21, Joeking led a 30-member team to destroy all structures at the human trafficking camps and they began by burning the pieces of blue canvas found there.
However, he instructed his team to stop burning or destroying anything 40 minutes later after discovering stretchers, believed to be used to carry cadavers, and graves at the site.
“By then we had only burnt canvas and food. The observation posts were left intact,” he said.
Joeking denied receiving any evidence from Inspector Mohd Mossadique, who had led the raid on the camp alongside nine other policemen on Jan 19.
He said they had taken photographs of the illegal settlement camp and mass graves on Jan 21 and he had handed over copies along with a report on the findings to the Padang Besar district police for further action.
Sometime in March or April the same year, he received orders from the battalion commander to delete all the photographs.
“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 could not explain why such an order was given.
During proceedings earlier, he named Superintendent Wan Hamzah Wan Kadir as the then commanding officer.
Joeking said he ordered surveillance and a raid of the area led by Mossadique. He added that the order was to carry out a raid only if necessary.
“I ordered one team to conduct surveillance and a raid if necessary, one team to do cut-off operations at the foot of the hill, and one team to assist the other two,” he told the panel.
When confronted with testimonies by previous witnesses who said the order was only to carry out surveillance, he said: “I don’t know why they said that, I am not very sure. My order was to carry out surveillance and to take action if necessary.”
Joeking said the team stationed at the foot of the Wang Burma hill was there to detain any suspected illegal immigrant who might try to run away.
“In total, we detained 38 people: six by the first surveillance team which went to the site, and 32 by the team at the foot of the hill.”
Joeking then took them to the Padang Besar police headquarters where he made a report.
He said he was informed by one of the 38 immigrants who spoke a bit of English and Bahasa Malaysia that they had been brought to Malaysia by agents with the promise of jobs.
He said they seemed tired and hungry, but that no one was injured. The 38 were then sent to the anti-trafficking unit depot.
Joeking said the operation was successful. Before his men went to the site, nobody knew the camp was the station for a human trafficking syndicate.
“After the raid, we knew for sure there was human trafficking on top of the Wang Burma hill, and we managed to save 38 lives that day.”
He added that the area was part of the Perlis National Park, and not an operational area where members of the GOF carried out patrols.
“If there had been an active post there, maybe we would have known sooner,” he said.
The public hearing continues on April 22.
Earlier report: Apr 17, Wang Kelian RCI: Day One