We, the undersigned civil society organisations, express our dismay at the acquittal of three prime suspects in the murder of indigenous rights activist, the late Bill Kayong @ Mohd Hasbie Abdullah.
On 6 June 2017, three of the four accused of the murder of Bill Kayong were discharged and acquitted by the Miri High Court following the prosecution’s failure to establish a prima facie case against the three.
Following an extensive investigation, which was reported in the media, followed by an Interpol manhunt, Stephen Lee Chee Kiang was eventually extradited from China; and following the long history of dispute over Native Customary Rights (NCR) land in Sg Bekelit, Bekenu championed by the late Bill Kayong which involves the Tung Huat Plantation (of which Stephen Lee was a director), the acquittal of the three suspects is a travesty of justice.
In light of the long history of conflict, threats and violence by the accused’s company against the community, the failure by the police and the prosecution in establishing adequate evidence against the accused is unjustifiable and can only be described as incompetence.
Notable failure by the police and the prosecution includes the failure to call for witnesses from the community who could testify and give useful evidence and the failure to adduce the threats made against Miri MP Dr Michael Teo and the late Bill Kayong as evidence.
The loss of Bill Kayong is felt throughout the country, especially in the community in which he had served over the years, and it is of paramount importance that his assailants are brought to justice. Failure in conducting comprehensive investigations and in providing due evidence for the prosecution represents a failure in fulfilling the police and the public prosecution’s duties and obligations to the people of Malaysia.
And by proxy, this a failure by the government of Malaysia in upholding justice and in protecting the indigenous peoples and their rights to native customary land.
Furthermore, reflecting on the stakes involved in the case and the history of conflict between one of the accused, the community and Bill Kayong, their acquittal due to inadequate evidence would undoubtedly create and fuel public suspicion that there is an attempt to cover up the crime and protect the assailants.
To this end, we, the undersigned civil society groups, call for:
- the Attorney General Chambers to discharge their duties professionally and ensure justice for Bill Kayong and his family and ensure those who have had a hand in his murder be brought to justice;
- the police to act with the professionalism they have shown in the past and to discharge their duties accordingly;
- the Sarawak state government to fulfil its promises and obligations in protecting and promoting indigenous rights and the rights to native customary land;
- the promise for the establishment of a working committee on native customary rights land with community participation to be implemented immediately.
- Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram)
- Malaysian Physicians for Social Responsibility
- Jaringan Rakyat Tertindas (Jerit)
- Community Development Centre
- Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM)
- Sahabat Alam Malaysia
- NTFP EP (Malaysia)
- Institute for Development of Alternative Living (Ideal)
- Persatuan Masyarakat Tering Miri
- Save Rivers11) Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC)
- Lawyer Kamek For Change (L4KC)
- Persatuan Dayak Sarawak (Pedas)
- Jaringan Orang Asal Se-Malaysia
- North South Initiative
- Malaysians Against Death Penalty and Torture (Madpet)
- Persatuaan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor (Empower)
- Knowledge and Rights with Young People through Safer Space (KRYSS)
- Pusat Komas
- Sarawak Native Land Rights Network (Jaringan Tanah Hak Adat Bangsa Asal Sarawak)(Tahabas)
- Baram Protection Action Committee (BPAC)
- Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Negeri Sembilan (JKOANS)
- Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia)
- Wanita Desa Sarawak (Wadesa)
- Borneo Resources Institute (Brimas)
- Jawatankuasa Kemajuan dan Keselamatan Kampung Kawasan Jagoi (JKKK Jagoi)
- Belia Jaringan Orang Asal (Belia JOAS)
- Persatuan Usahasama Kampung Gabungan Tiong, Tamparuli Sabah (Pusakag)
- Monongkad Tinungkusan – Pertubuhan rakyat gabungan lima buah kampung
- Pertubuhan AJK Perak Utara untuk menyelesai isu-isu pembalakan yang berlaku di Semanjun, Perak (AJK Perak Utara)
- Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement (Dema)
- Monitoring Sustainability of Globalisation (MSN)
- Morning Dayak Thing Tang (DYTG)
- Rise of Sarawak Efforts (Rose)
- Kuala Lumpur & Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
- Lawyers for Liberty (LFL)
- Sahabat Rakyat (人民之友)
- Bruno Manser Funds
- Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara