(May 27): In a rare move, the Dewan Rakyat today allowed a PKR lawmaker’s emergency motion to debate the mass graves recently found in Padang Besar, Perlis.
Deputy Speaker Ismail Mohd Said set aside one hour for the motion to be tabled and debated from 4.30pm to 5.30pm today, with the home ministry scheduled to respond to the issues raised by the lawmakers.
“I have looked through this and am satisfied that it is specific, of public importance and is urgent. I allow for this motion to be debated,” Ismail said today.
In filing the emergency motion, Alor Setar MP Gooi Hsiao Leung had said the matter must be debated because many questions remained unanswered.
“How can it have happened without the knowledge of the government all this while?” Gooi said.
“The matter is specific because 139 graves and 28 human trafficking camps were found in Malaysia. It is of public importance because it involves the government’s failure to manage the country’s borders, which involves the nation’s security, and the death of hundreds of people.
“It is urgent because it is clear that our country’s borders are not secure and have been trespassed for the past few years.”
Yesterday, Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said local authorities may be complicit in causing the deaths of the people found buried in the mass graves, and that police were investigating the matter.
Zahid said police had yet to ascertain the identities of some 100 bodies found in the mass graves and that the police forensic team was currently conducting tests to determine if the remains were Rohingya or Bangladeshi victims of human trafficking.
Earlier this month, the ministry denied reports claiming the existence of holding camps and mass graves of illegal ethnic Rohingya migrants on the Malaysian side of its border with Thailand.
Its secretary-general Datuk Alwi Ibrahim said investigations carried out by the police had found no such camps or graves in Malaysia.
After the discovery of "death camps" in southern Thailand, there have been news reports saying that there might be similar slave camps housing illegal immigrants on the Malaysian side of the border.
More than 1.3 million Rohingya – viewed by the United Nations as one of the world's most persecuted minorities – live in Myanmar's western Rakhine state.
Fleeing persecution, these refugees usually make their way to Malaysia on rickety boats via people smugglers.
After coming under fire for turning away refugees adrift at sea after being abandoned by the smugglers following a crackdown by Thai police on normal smuggling routes, Malaysia together with Indonesia on May 20 announced that they would no longer turn away the boat people.
Myanmar has also softened its line on the issue, offering to provide humanitarian assistance to stricken migrants. – The Malaysian Insider