Royal Commission to probe trafficking in Malaysia | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 31, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:03 AM, January 31, 2019

Trafficking Camps, Mass Graves: Malaysia to open royal inquiry

Malaysia will set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate the existence of human trafficking camps and the graves uncovered three years ago in the hilly area of Wang Kelian, which borders Thailand.

Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said the names of the Commission members would be handed over to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong, the King of Malaysia, for consent but did not mention the names of the members or when the list would be submitted.

The move comes eight months after the new Mahathir Mohamad-led government came to power and announced its five-year plan to make Malaysia corruption-free. 

“The police had previously carried out investigations and prepared reports on these matters but we decided to set up the RCI to avoid any misunderstanding or prejudice,” Muhyiddin told reporters after attending the Perlis Malay Congress dialogue session in Arau on January 27, reports Malaysia's state news agency Bernama.

He said the commission would be given six months to probe into the two matters before tabling its report.

In May 2015, police announced the discovery of human trafficking camps and mass graves in Wang Kelian.

During that time, hundreds of bodies of people -- who were suspected to be Rohingyas and Bangladeshis -- were found in the graves in the bordering areas of Thailand and Malaysia.

The victims had been picked up by human traffickers or smugglers from the coasts of Cox's Bazar and Myanmar and transported by rickety engine boats to the coastal jungles of Thailand. There, they were held hostage for ransom.

Those who could pay through their relatives in Bangladesh or Myanmar were released and passed on to Malaysia. Those who failed to pay were tortured and left without food or water -- a situation that led to their deaths.

Following the discovery of the mass graves in Thailand and Malaysia, both countries had beefed up security at the maritime borders, causing a migrant crisis in the Andaman Sea where several thousand Rohingyas and Bangladeshis were stuck.

Later, Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia agreed to accept the floating migrants following global outcry.

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