Pastor Joshua and Ruth Hilmy’s documents, including his baptism certificate, were kept by a housemate in case the former got into trouble with the authorities, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) public inquiry heard today.
Josiahnandan Emmanuel Peter, 25, the third witness in the inquiry, was recalled today to verify documents he had given to Philip Koh, a lawyer representing Ruth’s family, earlier this year in February.
He told the inquiry that he and his sister had collected the documents in 2017, before they shifted from Joshua’s house in Kg Tunku, Petaling Jaya.
“We took the documents in case something happened to him (Joshua).
“In Malaysia, if a Malay becomes a Christian and if they start sharing it (religious beliefs) with other Malays, then it becomes a risk to them,” he told the inquiry today.
He was responding to Bar Council lawyer Andrew Khoo, who asked why he took the documents from Joshua’s home.
Josiahnandan and his sister, Grace Thangamalar, used to live with the couple when they were studying in college from 2014 to 2017.
Their father, Peter Pormanan, a close of friend of Joshua’s, allowed his children to live at his home as it was near their college in Petaling Jaya.
Among the documents presented to the inquiry were baptism certificates, official and unofficial documents, emails and Bibles.
Koh then asked Josiahnandan why he didn’t give the box of documents to his father.
Josiahnandan said that, at the time, it had not occurred to him to take the documents to his father.
“We (Grace) almost forgot about the box. My father also didn’t know of it.”
Khoo then asked what feeling or thought led him to withhold surrendering the box to the police.
Josiahnandan said that he was uncertain about giving it to the police whether the documents would be handled properly.
“Knowing that they (Joshua and Ruth) were involved in religious activities; that’s why I was uncertain about how to expose this information.”
Peter had previously told the Suhakam panel that Joshua, a former Muslim who converted to Christianity, could have action taken against him for his religious beliefs.
Little else is known about Joshua and Ruth, who are suspected to be victims of an enforced disappearance. In 2018, two years after their disappearance, Ruth’s siblings lodged a missing person report.
Ruth’s family hails from the fishing village of Nambiki in northern Sumatra, Indonesia.
International human rights laws define enforced disappearance as when a person is secretly abducted or imprisoned by a state or political organisation, or by a third party with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of a state or political organisation.
The Suhakam panel is chaired by commissioner Hishamuddin Yunus, assisted by commissioners Jerald Joseph and Madeline Berma. – TMI