Thursday, July 18

The best possible news


Dec 13. Tuesday 8.32pm. IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar tweeted to congratulate the Sarawak police for arresting the prime suspect in the alleged murder of Bill Kayong.

Next, I read a statement from State CP Datuk Mazlan Mansor, confirming that Stephen Lee Chee Kiang was detained at 7.45pm upon his arrival at KLIA following his arrest in China and his subsequent repatriation.

Lee was caught by the Public Security Ministry in Putian, Fujian Province, on Dec 12 and handed over to the Malaysian authorities before being deported from Xiamen under the escort of a special task force, led personally by state CID chief Datuk Dev Kumar.

In the course of my work, I had texted the CID chief a number of times in an endeavour to find out where the prime suspect could have been hiding on the lam in the face of on-going investigations into the alleged crime.

My last text was Dec 6 to which he replied: “We are not sure. The last we knew was that he was in Australia.”

I actually missed this line of his query: “Why the sudden interest in the Bill Kayong’s case.”

As a matter of fact, the media were not the only ones constantly looking for updates on Lee’s whereabouts, Bill’s family and friends were even more concerned and anxious to get some answers – and rightly so.

The public who had been following the case closely from day one, were naturally also interested to know how far investigations into this high-profile case had progressed.

Apparently, the doubts have been cleared with Lee’s arrest at KLIA on Dec 13.

PKR politician and vocal land rights activist Bill was killed in a broad daylight shooting in Miri on June 21.

Lee was wanted by the police as the prime suspect of the alleged murder, believed related to a dispute between the plantation company, headed by Lee, and native land owners whom Bill had been representing.

Police had also arrested and charged the alleged shooter and two other co-conspirators. With Lee being arrested and charged in court, there is now only one suspect still at large.

Bad news has befallen this land of ours every so often. Bill’s murder is, no doubt, a tragedy but being able to bring the suspects to face their respective charges and let justice run its course is the

best possible news at this dark hour.

We must commend the Sarawak police for successfully tracking Lee down. The world may be a big place but with effective co-ordination among regional as well as global law enforcement units in busting crimes, criminals will have no place to hide.

Running from Australia to China, the suspect might have been hoping to avoid detection by disguising himself. He could have kept his hair longer and even sported a bread but darkness can never escape from light.

Which reminds me of the Sunday School song – O sinner man. The sinner man runs to the rock that won’t hide him and to the river that is bleeding and boiling but the devil is waiting for him.

The only place to seek restitution is with the Lord where justice and righteousness rule, and from whom none can hide.

Let’s not be contended with just this “best possible news” on the prime suspect’s arrest. There is more darkness that needs to be exposed out there. Unsettled issues have to be put in perspective and resolved.

We have also seen some remarkable achievements by the men in blue, particularly in Lawas where drug abuse has reportedly been rampant.

We covered Lawas during our annual road trip under the “BAT” (Borneo Post Adventure Team) flagship between June and July and highlighted the sentiments and fears of the locals over drug abuse, prostitution, cyber gambling, smuggling, illegal immigrants and thefts griping this northern gateway.

On the day the report on rampant drug abuse having penetrated secondary schools with peddlers enlisting students to push drugs to their schoolmates, was published, we were on our early journey from Lawas to Kota Kinabalu.

Later, we were informed that the police had intention to arrest us for “false” reporting.

As far as we know, there hasn’t been any such police record but the burning question is will journalists be arrested for reporting the truth or for obtaining more information to prepare their reports?

In any event, I thought the BAT report on the crime situation in Lawas had been a “near miss” for us!

It felt like the Sword of Damocles had been placed over our heads but we were vindicated by events subsequently taking place in Lawas.

On Nov 3, it was reported that a Form Three student was among six people arrested in four separate ambushes in Lawas for alleged possession and abuse of drugs a day earlier.

Again on Nov 6, police in Lawas picked up  a 33-year-old secondary school teacher, suspected to be a Syabu pusher, together with, shockingly, a three-year-old male accomplice inside a car.

Lawas police chief DSP Abang Zainal Abidin Abang Ahmad was quoted as saying police had tracked and monitored the illicit operations for about four months.

What this proves beyond any shadow of doubt is that the information obtained from the ground by BAT is true.

Bearing in mind the period of the operations, it would be fair to say the newspaper reports in July could have been instrumental in jolting the police into action.

Yes, we complement the police for their efforts – from taking serious action to curb drugs abuse in Lawas over the past two months and their success in arresting Lee.

There is more that needs to be done though. With one best possible news this week, we look forward to more best news as we celebrate Christmas – the season when men are traditionally more joyful, mellow and sober.

But as we celebrate, let’s not forget that statistics actually show otherwise. Many people are lonely and sad. The forlorn feeling of abandonment and hopelessness can be deeply etched in their hearts.

Statistics showing more suicidal attempts during festive seasons indicate that sorrow and grief seem more prevalent than at any other time.

Let the next possible best news be seen in us peace-loving Sarawakians as we celebrate the Yuletide Season regardless of race and religion.

Let others see the light of righteousness, peace and joy and not be consumed by the darkness of vengeful political (and litigious) vendettas.