Dragnet widens for Perlis human trafficking camp culprits

Dragnet widens for Perlis human trafficking camp culprits
Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.

PETALING JAYA - The authorities are casting a wide net in the hunt for Malaysians who may have a hand in the death camps found near Padang Besar on the Perlis border with Thailand.

Deputy Home Minister Datuk Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said Bukit Aman was directed to investigate all enforcement agencies that run border patrols in the area.

"We will also investigate the village heads as well as community, development and security chiefs," he said during a motion to debate the issue in Parliament yesterday.

Senior-ranking officers at the Perlis Forestry Department were among 15 other personnel hauled up for questioning, part of an internal investigation by the department.

Perlis State Natural Resources and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Mat Rawi Kassim said statements had been recorded from the men.

"It is impossible that they did not know what was happening in the forest," he said. "If they did not have a clue, it showed they were not patrolling the area which is their responsibility."

Mat Rawi said he would be meeting with the department within days for a report and the next course of action.

In Parliament, Dr Wan Junaidi told the House that four police officers had been arrested by Bukit Aman and eight policemen by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on suspicion of being involved in people trafficking.

He said the men were arrested between March last year and February during operations against illegal immigrants in the country.

"We are investigating if they are linked to the camps and mass graves," he said.

On why the camps were not detected much earlier, he said this was because they were in remote and hilly jungle terrain.

Opposition lawmakers called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into human trafficking.

R. Sivarasa (PKR-Subang) said the problem had been going on for years.

He cited a report by Tenaganita, a non-governmental organisation looking out for migrant workers and refugees in Malaysia.

Titled The Revolving Door, it alleged that local policemen and immigration officers were involved in these activities.

Dr Mohd Hatta Ramli (PAS-Kuala Krai) said an RCI would help restore the country's tarnished image.

He said the authorities could not be expected to investigate their own men.

Dr Wan Junaidi replied that an RCI had already been suggested and that it was up to the Government to decide.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said no more camps or mass graves were expected to be unearthed in the area.

He also said investigative work at the camps was difficult and time consuming because the terrain and rainy weather were hampering accessibility.

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