The bodies and lies buried in Wang Kelian

Opinion  |  S Thayaparan
Published:  |  Modified:

“The Putrajaya Court of Appeal ordered the former director-general of the Immigration Department of Malaysia, Wahid Md Don, to enter his defence on corruption charges he faced in 2010.”

- Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)

The Wang Kelian mass graves episode is just another shameful but more importantly, it is a worrying data point in the destabilisation of our security apparatus and security of the nation. While some people may use this incident as just another attack against the Umno establishment before moving on to the next controversy, they are missing the point.

The reality is that if ever there is an insurgency of any kind (local or foreign) in this country, we will discover that our compromised security apparatus - that first line of defence - would be inadequate for protecting the citizenry of this country.

Kudos to DAP’s Sim Chee Keong for querying on the investigation of the mass graves - discovered in Wang Kelian, Perlis in May 2015 - and the status of the 12 police officers who were persons of interests in that investigation. The shocking reply by Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that they were released “because there was no strong evidence to charge them for the offence,” has rightly angered various rights groups here and in the region.

I made the following point in another article - “Add to this, the complicated reality of security apparatus personnel navigating the petty fiefdoms and the allegiances of said fiefdoms to Umno warlords and potentates and the fact that Malaysia is a nexus for human trafficking, with the complicity - well-documented - of the security apparatus. This last part is extremely important because the unsanctioned flow of illicit human cargo is the conduit for Islamic extremists to leave and enter the country.”

Freedom of movement of terrorist cells facilitated by corrupt officials who are most often ignorant of what damage their corruption does, is but one of the problems when the security apparatus breaks down. There are numerous social problems, not to mention economic problems, that come with undocumented or in such cases, unvetted foreign elements coming into this country which ironically also provides foreign intelligence operatives the opportunity to ply the trade under the cover of local governmental incompetence, apathy or corruption.

In nearly every report or investigation by credible professionals on the business of human trafficking worldwide, what has always been highlighted is the connective tissue between corrupt public officials - namely security operatives - working in collusion with human traffickers. This of course goes beyond a few bad apples and where there have been scandals on human trafficking, there has always been evidence of the collusion between the security apparatus of that particular country and traffickers who profit from human misery.

In other words, this is not solely a Malaysian problem. However, the release of these police officers after the scandalous revelations sends a message to corrupt security personnel that their illicit activities will go unsanctioned because of lack of “strong evidence”. It is precisely these types of activities that will contribute to whatever security calamity that will eventually find us. No country goes untouched.

If you think this example is troubling, recall the other big scandal that should have rocked this country but as usual was lost in the endless news cycle of a corruption scandal that seems to be going nowhere and everywhere at the same time. Last year, 15 immigration officers were sacked for sabotaging the passport system to let certain travellers in undetected.

As reported in the BBC, "suspicions were raised after computer systems at Malaysian airports crashed several times a day. The 15 are accused of deliberately taking them offline, allowing people to bypass criminal background checks. Another 65 officers have been redeployed, while a new roster will now monitor immigration points. As many as 100 immigration officials may have been involved in the operation, investigators say. The country's passport system may have been compromised for the past two years, according to the Malaysian authorities, possibly benefiting people traffickers and militant networks.”

What does this tell us? It tells us that the problem is systemic and that the food chain is diverse with...

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