Missing Persons: More Questions Than Answers

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A surprising revelation by the IGP is that Peter Chong has fled the country to Thailand.

  • IGP said four missing persons, only Raymond Koh abducted
  • Peter Chong in Thailand
  • Speculation on why Chong fled
  • Wife of Amri Che Mat claims he was abducted
  • Hints of “enforced disappearance”

In a press conference today, Bukit Aman warned several parties, including the Bar Council, from allegedly confusing the public over a recent spate of missing activists, especially over social media.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said from the five cases claimed to be abductions, only Pastor Raymond Koh’s case is confirmed as one, while three other cases are classified as missing people.

“I see that it has been made viral, all these people have been kidnapped. I want to warn those who want to confuse, this is not true. These five people have not been kidnapped. We have proof only one person has been abducted, that is Pastor Koh,” he said.

A surprising revelation by the IGP was that Peter Chong had, in fact, fled the country.

According to a report by the Malay Mail today, the IGP said authorities have evidence of Chong passing through the immigration checkpoint in Kedah last Friday.

“I want to confirm that Peter Chong has crossed to Thailand at 6:30 am on Apr 7 by bus. “He is in Thailand. We have a photograph of him crossing the border in Kayu Hitam,” he said.

Khalid also said that police will take action if Chong had staged his disappearance to make it appear as though he was abducted.

“He has left the country and we don’t know the reason. He may have run away because of debt,” he said, adding that Malaysian authorities are working with Thailand to find out more about Chong.

“I hope that he will contact his relatives, let them know he is safe and why he ran away there. Unless he purposely did it,” he said.

FMT reported that according to PKR, Chong’s Facebook Messenger was still active up to yesterday morning.

“This could mean two things, either that Peter is able to access his Facebook account, or that another person other than Peter is accessing his account,” PKR MP R Sivarasa and Selangor exco member Elizabeth Wong said in a statement.

Reportedly, one of Chong’s friends had also tried calling him through Facebook Phone. The call went through but was unanswered.

Contrary to what the police had confirmed about Raymond Koh being the only abduction among the five missing cases, the wife of Perlis activist Amri Che Mat had reportedly said that witnesses saw five vehicles blocking the path of Amri’s car before he was taken away just 550 metres from their home, which paralleled the modus operandi of Koh’s abduction. The incident allegedly happened on Nov 24 at about 11:30 pm. Amri’s wife Norhayati Mohd Ariffin lodged a police report the next day. Amri’s black four-wheel drive was found later near Perlis’ Timah Tasoh Dam with the windscreen smashed.

According to a report in The Star, Amri’s wife Norhayati Mohd Ariffin lodged a second police report on Dec 8 regarding statements from eyewitnesses. She lodged another police report on Feb 24 after having more information on her husband.

“We found someone who claimed that his cousin abducted Amri. We were sceptical until he mentioned that Amri was wearing orange slippers when he was abducted. He was indeed. But no action was taken,” she claimed.

Meanwhile, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed has rejected a suggestion that political interests may be behind the abduction of Raymond Koh and the disappearances of Peter Chong, Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth.

“The public shouldn’t entertain rumours,” Nur Jazlan told FMT when asked to comment on such a suggestion by Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Thomas Fann.

Speaking at a solidarity gathering for the missing persons last Saturday, Fann said: “Since the release of the CCTV footage of Pastor Raymond’s abduction, many Malaysians have come to the conclusion that this looks like a state-sponsored group.”

Social media has been abuzz with rumours that all the missing persons, except Peter Chong, are associated with religious activities that Malaysian authorities may not approve of.

Koh was once accused of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. Pastor Joshua Hilmy was once a Muslim. Welfare activist Amri Che Mat is said to be active in spreading Shia teachings. A former personal assistant to PKR MP R Sivarasa, Chong is known to have identified as a Christian but his activism is political, not religious.

Speculation is also rife of “enforced disappearance”, which Amnesty International describes as abductions carried out by state officials or people acting with state consent.

S Ambiga, president of human rights society Hakam, in a statement to the press, said a “forced disappearance” would usually be followed by a “refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, thus putting the person outside the protection of the law”.

Former IGP Musa Hassan in responding to whether he knew of enforced disappearances ever happening in Malaysia, said: “That’s just speculation.”

He added that it was dangerous to spread such rumours at a time when Malaysia was engaged in fighting terrorism.

“You have to be careful,” he said. “Sensitive issues can anger the public. There are so many extremists here, not just among the Muslims, but also non-Muslims.”

Musa advised members of the public to immediately lodge a police report if they believed they were being stalked or if their safety was directly threatened.

As for the perceived lack of rigour in police investigations, Nur Jazlan and the IGP refuted the allegation.

Related reports:

Apr 10, No News is Not Good News

Mar 29, Activists Disappearing in Uncannily Similar Circumstances

Mar 20, Shut Your Bloody Mouth, IGP Tells Public

Mar 4, Mystery of the Missing Pastor Deepens