PUTRAJAYA: The public hearing of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) on human trafficking and mass graves in Wang Kelian began yesterday with the chairman Tun Arifin Zakaria giving the terms of reference of its investigation.
It was held at the Home Ministry’s Dewan Gemilang here, which has been converted into a court room, and began with an opening speech by Ariffin, who is former Chief Justice.
Arifin said RCI would act according to the terms of reference in its investigation, as well as look into the procedures implemented by the authorities during and after the discovery.
He said RCI, set up with the consent of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong last Jan 29, among others will study all documents and evidence on the human trafficking and the mass graves.
“RCI will also investigate whether improvements have been made on enforcement after the incident and also identify implications on the country after the incident,” he added.
Former Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Norian Mai is the deputy chairman of the seven-member RCI.
The other members are former Head of Prosecution in the Attorney-General’s Chambers Datuk Noorbahri Baharuddin; former Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail; former Head of Research in the Attorney-General’s Chambers Datuk Junaidah Abdul Rahman, former Malaysian Ambassador to Thailand Datuk Nazirah Hussin and former Public Accounts Committee (PAC) deputy chairman Dr Tan Seng Giaw.
In 2015, the country and the world were shocked over the discovery of mass graves and several transit camps in Wang Kelian linked to human trafficking activities, where a total of 147 graves with 130 human skeletons were found, which later led to the arrest of 44 foreigners.
The tragedy which involved victims from the ethnic Rohingya community from Myanmar and Bangladesh also attracted the attention of the international community.
The RCI hearing is assisted by two handling officers who will conduct the inquiry.
After the hearing session, Ariffin said the commission would submit recommendations to the government on actions and improvements to be taken and also a report of the investigation would be submitted to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
The RCI proceeding began with the first witness, Corporal Mat Ten, from the Third Battalion of the General Operations Force in Bedong, Kedah, called to testify. — Bernama