A witness told a Malaysian Human Rights Commission inquiry that he was unknowingly baptised when he sought spiritual treatment from missing pastor Joshua Hilmy.
For the first time, the inquiry into Hilmy’s disappearance has been linked to the case of another missing pastor, Raymond Koh, whose signature was on the baptism certificate.
Iqbal Mirza Mohd Jalaluddin said he and his wife Fadzlina Amran were introduced to Joshua by a friend in January 2015 after the couple fell “spiritually ill” following their marriage in 2001.
Iqbal said he endured constant disturbance by “evil spirits” and that he was also experiencing unbearable physical pain.
He said he had sought treatments from several ustaz before meeting Joshua, but nothing helped to cure the sickness.
The witness said that he and his wife met Joshua at his residence on the night of January 1, 2015, where Joshua’s wife Ruth Sitepu was also present.
Iqbal said that he and his wife shared their problems to Joshua, after which the pastor decided to bathe them.
Iqbal recalled that Joshua had read a few verses during this time and that the name “Jesus” was also mentioned.
When asked if Joshua had said the word “baptise” during the encounter, Iqbal responded in agreement.
“He (Joshua) did mention the word ‘baptise’ but I told him that me and my wife are here to cleanse ourselves and that I wanted the pain in me to go away.
“Joshua did say that I have been baptised but at that time, it didn’t bother me much because I was just looking to get cured,” Iqbal said at the inquiry today.
However, he admitted that he didn’t understand what it meant by ‘baptise’ because his purpose to meet Joshua was to be cured of his ills.
Little is known about what became of Joshua and Ruth, believed to be victims of enforced disappearance.
In 2018, two years after they went missing, Ruth’s siblings lodged a missing person’s report.
Her family are from the fishing village of Nambiki in northern Sumatra.
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.
Iqbal was shown two baptism certificates dated February 5, 2015, in his and his wife’s name.
The certificates were countersigned by Pastor Raymond Koh.
Asked if he had converted to Christianity, Iqbal said he is still a Muslim.
Iqbal said that he had not seen the documents until late last year, when he was called by the police for questioning, but said he had met Koh – who went missing in 2017 – for the first time in 2014 and the other in 2015.
Iqbal said that he was introduced to Koh through Harapan Community, an organisation that helps people with diseases.
“My wife found out about the community through the Internet as she was seeking a cure for her father, who had cancer.
“There, we met Raymond and told him our problems too. He recited a prayer and that’s it. Nothing else,” Iqbal said, adding that he referred to Koh as uncle.
Iqbal said he had no knowledge of the baptism certificates signed by Koh.
When asked if the spiritual prayers helped cure his problems, Iqbal said that there were no signs of cure.
He said that later doctors advised him to take medication for high blood pressure and cholesterol, and now he is being able to sleep well. – TMI