PUTRAJAYA: A retired General Operations Force (GOF) assistant commander says he was forbidden from going out on operations after submitting an incident report on the suspected involvement of Malaysians in human trafficking activities in Wang Kelian.
S. Sivanganam told the seven-member panel of the Royal Commission of Inquiry that he was barred from going on operations till the day he retired in July 2016.
Sivanganam said 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 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.
Former IGP Tan Sri Norian Mai, who was one of the RCI panellists, queried why Sivanganam 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.
Earlier, fifth witness Asst Supt Joeking M. Marian Anthony told the panel that mass graves in Wang Kelian were only discovered on the day they were carrying out orders to destroy an illegal settlement camp in Perlis in 2015.
ASP Joeking said they discovered the camp on Jan 19, and the then Perlis deputy police chief instructed them on Jan 20 to destroy it.
Joeking, who was then serving as Company Commander B of Batallion 3 northern brigade GOF, said they did not proceed with the order when they discovered the graves.
ASP Joeking and his superior, Sivanganam, had led a 30-member team to carry out the order to destroy but halted the operations about 40 minutes later when they discovered 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.
He also noted that the then Padang Besar OCPD had queried if they had found the graves when his men raided the area on Jan 19.“I told him I was not sure, as I did not see it myself,” he said.
ASP Joeking replied “no” to a question from RCI conducting officer Khairul Anwar Abdul Halim on whether there were any prior briefing on the mass graves.
He said they had taken photographs of the illegal settlement camp and mass graves on Jan 21 that year, and he had handed over copies along with a report on the findings to the Padang Besar district police for further action.
However, sometime in March or April the same year, he received orders from the battalion commander to delete all the photographs.
The public hearing continues on April 22.