Wang Kelian – into the heart of darkness

S Thayaparan


You know I hate, detest and can't bear a lie, not because I am straighter than the rest of us, but simply because it appals me. There is a taint of death, a flavour of mortality in lies - which is exactly what I hate and detest in the world - what I want to forget.”

― Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness

COMMENT | I have no idea what will become of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the mass graves at Wang Kelian. While NGOs and activists have expressed support for the government’s decision to set up this RCI, I remain sceptical if anything will come of it.

Wang Kelian is more than just a mass grave. It is an indictment of a system that is mired in corruption bordering on the evil and a society that has very little interests in the plight of marginalised peoples who come to our homeland.

We are a nation that has still not acknowledged our history of slavery upon the indigenous people of this country. We do not attempt to learn from our past. We bury it, hoping that we may escape whatever lessons it could have taught us.

The executive director of the human rights NGO Tenaganita, Glorene A Das, reminded the powers that be to also investigate the individuals (including those who may be politically linked) who were behind the cover-up of Wang Kelian: “The reported cover-up of the activities of human trafficking syndicates and the annihilation of vital evidence needs to be explained; those involved in it should be brought to justice, without fear or favour.”

And this is an important point. The fact is that Wang Kelian could not have happened if the was no collusion among crime syndicates, the state security apparatus and most importantly, the political class who were needed to facilitate and give legitimacy to a cover-up. We are talking about high crimes perpetrated by local actors working in concert with foreign high-ranking officials.

With this in mind, the idea that the police are going to “assist” in this RCI is laughable. One of the things I argued that the new Pakatan Harapan government should do, after their historic May 9 win, is to unearth the killers and slavers of Wang Kelian. I have a deep mistrust of the state security apparatus.

Please refer to this piece.

In it you will discover that all Bukit Aman has done is to stonewall journalists investigating this case. They dodged questions from the then opposition political operatives, contaminated (or worse) the crime scenes and these were enabled by the ruling BN regime. International publications like the Guardian reported that the state department claimed that there was high-level participation of government officials in Malaysia and Thailand in the Wang Kelian mass killings.

A police Special Branch report compiled over 10 years detailed the systemic corruption within the enforcement agencies, claiming that at least 80 percent of law enforcement officers at the border were corrupt. The DAP’s Steven Sim, who has been doing sterling work, which often goes unreported, questioned then home minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi on the status of 12 police officers who were persons of interests in this crime and what did the home minister say in his written reply? That there was no evidence of any wrongdoing...

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