6 JUNE 2017
The ruling today by the High Court judge in the Bill Kayong murder trial is a devastating blow for the people who are seeking justice for Bill Kayong’s family. It is obvious to all that he was murdered for his activities in helping to defend the lands of the indigenous people but the prosecution had failed to put up a credible case against the mastermind.
One can sense the frustration of the judge in having to put up with an inept prosecution. Rulings are based on evidence presented before the court and without putting forth a strong case, the prosecution had failed to even get past first base.
The release of the alleged mastermind accused, not even a case made up for him to answer in defence, makes a complete mockery of our criminal justice system. The trial will be remembered for the supposed key prosecution witnesses switching sides during the trial, while many named witnesses from the communities who could have testified to give useful evidence were not called. It was recalled that the threats made against Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and the late Bill Kayong were not adduced in the trial. The whole conduct of the case leaves much to be desired.
All over the world, those people concerned with the case will ask: Why did Stephen Lee flee the country immediately after the murder if he was innocent? After hiding in Australia he fled to China, and it took months and the co-operation of the Chinese authorities before the authorities were able to bring this fugitive back to face trial. After all the efforts taken to capture him, he has been released because of insufficient evidence? This is a complete joke and points to serious deficiencies in the prosecutor’s office. How competent are the DPPs to conduct major criminal cases? Were the prosecution witnesses prevented from being influenced to change their stories? Did the prosecution even really try to build up a solid case?
Once again, the message to the natives of Sarawak is that there is nothing that can be done to stop the oppression of their communities and the denial of their rights. At the end of the day, it looks like the rich are not accountable for their actions and they can behave like gangsters without any consequences besides the inconvenience of a few months in the police lock-up.
This ruling has sent a very wrong and disturbing message. It is imperative that the Sarawak government settle the recognition of pemakai menoa and pulau galau without further delay, to prevent any other tragedies. I had said this after Bill was murdered, but there is still no resolution after almost a year. The Committee headed by DCM Douglas Uggah to resolve this matter must act now.
Bill Kayong’s life was worth much more than this. The prosecution had failed dismally in bringing his murderers to justice, and they have some serious soul-searching to do. As do all of us, especially the natives of Sarawak. What now for the family of Bill Kayong? Where is justice to be found? This is indeed a dark day for us all.
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak