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Wang Kelian RCI: Inadequate info hindered investigation - witness

Last update: 18/06/2019
Woon Tan Seng

PUTRAJAYA, June 18 (Bernama) -- An investigating officer today testified that inadequate information was among the reasons why the investigation into the discovery of human trafficking transit camps and graves in Wang Kelian, Perlis reached a standstill.

Supt Woon Tan Seng said victims or witnesses were also reluctant to come forward to assist in the investigation for security reasons as they did not know that their identity would be concealed under the Witness Protection Act.

The 48th witness in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) also did not deny that lack of coordination in certain matters such as exchange of information among the relevant security agencies, could have contributed to the weaknesses in the investigation.

"In this case we could not expand the investigation because of sufficient information," he said during the proceeding here.

He opined that the witnesses could also have shied away because they had acquired the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) card or were now working and therefore concerned that their interests would be affected.

Woon, who is based at Bukit Aman Commercial Crime Investigation Department as crime analysis/statistics assistant director was the sole witness on the 17th day and last session of the seven-panel RCI led by former chief justice Tun Arifin Zakaria.

When asked whether the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007 was comprehensive enough to prevent a recurrence of such incident, he said it was.

Nevertheless, he said the department would periodically conduct courses for its personnel including the General Operations Force.

"The Act is good and adequate except that we need to increase the strength of our personnel at the border, step up patrolling, besides using state-of-the-art monitoring equipment such as drones for dense forested areas where access is hindered," he said.

To a question from Arifin on the outcome of the investigation into the death of 106 undocumented foreigners at the site, he said the incidents were not due to abuse.

He surmised that the deaths were due to illness, a usual phenomenon in the forest, coupled with the scarcity of food in the camps.

"Admittedly some witnesses said they were whipped; there were bruises and bandages but the injuries in my view were not the cause of the deaths,” he said.

He also said the actual cause could not be ascertained from the post mortem conducted by government pathologists.


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