MIRI (The Star/Asia News Network, AFP) - A senior member of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) branch in Sarawak was gunned down at a traffic junction in the eastern Malaysian state on Tuesday (June 21).
Bill Kayong, the secretary of PKR's Miri branch who had run for a Sarawak state assembly seat in elections held on May 7, was found slumped in the driver's seat of a Toyota truck at 9:20am in Kuala Baram, about 20km north of Miri.
The shooting was one of two gun-related incidents that occurred at busy intersections on Tuesday. A gunman also shot two brothers at a traffic light junction near Malaysia's Batu Caves on Tuesday.
The truck, still bearing the PKR election logo, was found riddled with bullet holes on the driver’s side when it was found near the E-Mart supermarket on Permyjaya-Kuala Baram road.
Malaysian police said they had formed a special task force to investigate the murder.
Kayong's colleagues, Miri PKR chairman Michael Teoh, Sarawak DAP secretary Alan Ling as well as SUPP secretary general Datuk Sebastian Ting, had rushed to the scene following the shooting.
PKR president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said she was shocked by the shooting and urged members to remain calm and allow the police to conduct investigations.
Kayong, 43, was a member of one of Sarawak’s many indigenous tribes and was active in fighting on behalf of indigenous peoples, especially on land-rights issues, Steve Teo, Keadilan’s local youth-wing chief, told AFP.
Teo said he knew of no specific possible motive for the killing.
Dev Kumar, the head of criminal investigations for Sarawak, which lies along the northern portion of huge Borneo island, said in a statement that Kayong was “shot dead by an unknown person using a shotgun.”
He urged the public not to speculate on possible motives for the killing, promising a thorough investigation.
Sarawak is known for its once-towering rainforests and its powerful rivers. Tribal groups have for years resisted logging, the expansion of palm-oil estates, and the building of hydroelectric dams that have flooded large areas inhabited for generations by tribespeople.
Tribal activists say their land rights have in many cases been stolen, with the collusion of the state government and well-connected companies.
Malaysia’s ruling coalition won a landslide victory in last month’s state polls, which the opposition and independent analysts said was marred by blatant government handouts to voters and other “money politics”, as well as gerrymandering that favoured the coalition.
In another shooting incident on Tuesday, two men were injured in an attack at a traffic light junction in Batu Caves near Kuala Lumpur.
The men, said to be brothers, were in two separate cars and were shot when they stopped at the traffic lights at Jalan Besar Sunway Batu Caves around 12.10pm. Eyewitnesses claimed the gunman had been travelling in another car and sped off with his accomplice after the shooting.
The shooting was said to have been gang-related, The Star reported.
Police said the elder brother, 34, was shot in the head and is in serious condition, while the younger one, 30, was shot in the ear and cheek.
They added that they were investigating the motive of the attack.