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Malaysian opposition politician shot dead: police

Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 13:53

[KUALA LUMPUR] A Malaysian opposition politician who worked on native land rights issues was shot dead on Tuesday six weeks after a failed run for a local assembly seat.

Bill Kayong, 43, was gunned down in his pickup truck while stopped at a traffic light in the small city of Miri in Sarawak state, police said.

Kayong was a member of the opposition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (People's Justice Party) and had run for a Sarawak state assembly seat in elections held on May 7.

Dev Kumar, the head of criminal investigations for Sarawak, which lies along the northern portion of huge Borneo island, said in a statement that Mr 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.

Mr Kayong is 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.

Mr Teo said he knew of no specific possible motive for the killing.

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.

AFP

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