Raymond Koh’s 63rd Birthday ‘Celebration’ at Day 4 of Inquiry

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Family and friends mark Koh’s birthday today while the Suhakam panel and an investigating officer argue over a diary.

Like for any birthday celebration, there was a birthday cake with lit candles, and family and friends sung the birthday song before the cake was cut. Yet it was no celebration, as the birthday boy was missing. In fact, he has been missing for 262 days.

Koh turns 63 today, and the ‘celebration’ to mark the occasion saw tears flowing instead of merriment filling the air at the Suhakam headquarters in Kuala Lumpur during the hour-long recess for lunch.

“We are sad because he’s not here but we are hopeful he will be released soon. We pray he will be treated well and will be in good health,” Koh’s wife Susanna Liew said tearfully.

Earlier, at the inquiry, the inquiry panel had requested investigating officer Insp Ali Asra Abu Bakar from the Petaling Jaya district police station for his investigation diary (ID) to corroborate his oral testimony.

Ali Asra, who was initially probing the abduction of Koh, however, said he could not give it to the panel as the case was still under investigation.

A police observer from Bukit Aman, who declined to be named, then stood up and told the panel’s chairman Mah Weng Kwai that the diary was classified and that Suhakam needed to write to the Attorney-General’s Chambers if it wishes to take a look at the document.

However, Mah said that if the panel was denied evidence on the grounds that investigations are ongoing, then they might as well “pack up and leave”.

“This is a public enquiry to achieve the terms of reference…. All parties are here to assist, including the police and observer teams,” Mah said.

Eventually, Ali Asra was compelled to hand over the ID to the panel

The panel then discussed the contents of the ID before the hearing continued.

Later when questioned, Ali Asra said the ID was done on the day of Koh’s abduction and that it was updated from time to time.

However, lawyer Gurdial Singh Nijar who was representing Koh’s family questioned the authenticity of the ID, claiming that a lot of what was written in it varied from Ali Asra’s oral testimony and statements provided by previous witnesses.

“We want to know if this ID was embellished. Because suddenly everything is on point, filling all the missing gaps in the statements provided previously,” Gurdial told the inquiry.

The police observer subsequently requested that any discussions regarding the ID be taken out from the inquiry’s hearing, to which Mah rejected.

“There’s nothing groundbreaking from the ID. At the moment, whatever is being said on the ID will remain on record,” Mah said.

Ali Asri also told the inquiry that he had interviewed Liew on the day Koh was abducted, for over five hours, finishing in the early hours of the next day.

He admitted that his line of questioning was focused on the issue of proselytisation.

“I was told by my superiors to ask the questions related to Christianisation as the victim is a pastor,” he said.

When asked by lawyer Lim Heng Seng representing the Malaysian Bar as an observer, if he planned and compiled all the proselytisation-related questions for the five-hour session, Ali Asri said he could not provide an answer to that.

Lim continued to press the officer on how long he intended to interview Liew for the day if she had not complained of tiredness, Ali Asri said he too, wanted to call it a day.

The inspector also denied that police had opened a “file” on Koh.

ASP Supari Mohammad, an investigating officer (IO) attached to the Petaling Jaya police district, claimed that Koh’s family refused to cooperate with him in the investigations.

“As an IO, I was not satisfied because I did not get answers.

“His family members refused to answer my questions. Puan Susanna Liew even shouted at me for asking questions on proselytisation repeatedly,” he said.

Supari was responding to a question by the panel on why he had said Koh’s family had refused to cooperate.

He added the questions related to alleged conversion into Christianity were asked as there were 78 police reports lodged against Koh in 2011 for claims he proselytised Muslims.

Supari also said he had asked Koh’s children on their father’s whereabouts four days before the incident but they could not provide him with an answer.

“They are staying under the same roof but they did not know their father’s whereabouts,” he said.

Supari also said he had recorded statements from 28 people for Koh’s missing case so far, including Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) officers.

On the four men arrested following ex-IGP Khalid Abu Bakar’s announcement on Jun 25 that police had found a new lead in Koh’s case after his men shot dead a drug trafficking suspect in Kampung Weng Dalam, Kedah, on Jun 17, Supari said they have been released as there was no evidence against them linking to Koh’s case.

It was previously reported that police who raided the dead suspect’s house had found photos believed to be of Koh’s house and his car.

The inquiry will continue tomorrow, with Supari continuing his testimony.

The inquiry is being held in connection with the disappearance of Koh, social activist Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Sitepu.

It will consider, among other things, whether the cases were enforced or involuntary disappearance.


Related report: Oct 31, Ex-IGP Admits Lapses in Koh’s Investigation, Refuses to Answer Many Questions