Thursday, April 30, 2009

Batang Rajang :River Of Death

The Sungai Rajang, which flows through Sarikei Division here, has been nicknamed the "river of death" by locals after 18 bodies were fished out in the past 16 months.

The victims were mostly fishermen from Thailand and Myanmar who were murdered after drunken fights and whose bodies were thrown into the river. On several occasions, bodies of foreign fishermen were also fished out from the South China Sea.

Police are now hoping to shed this "cowboy town" image of Sarikei with the setting up of a task force to handle the problem of unruly foreigners.

The unacceptable social behaviour of the fishermen had also given Sarikei and surrounding areas the image of a place of utter lawlessness.

State police Commissioner Datuk Mohmad Salleh said the task force was a result of a recent discussion held between the police, the state internal security and other relevant departments.
"These foreign fishermen usually get involved in drunken brawls and when one of them is killed, the body is simply dumped into the river or at sea," Mohmad told Bernama before chairing a three-day meeting with 27 district police chiefs from throughout the state.

"We have from January last year to April 28 this year fished out 18 bodies from Sungai Rajang and the South China Sea.

"While some of these cases had been classified as sudden death, most were classified as murder based on post- mortem findings. We had to consider them as unsolved murders as the victims carried no identification papers."

He said it was unfair for the public to single out police as not having done their job in policing the fast growing industrial and deep sea fishing town adequately every time crimes occurred there.

"What is most important is for all the relevant departments like the Immigration, Customs, Fisheries and the Health Departments to work closely together to tackle any problem with each concentrating on their specific responsibility.

"The police will provide the manpower should there be a need for a joint operation," Mohmad added.