No News is Not Good News

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It’s hard to ignore the ominous disappearances of activists and the unnatural lack of news on what’s going on.

  • Fates of missing people unknown
  • Peter Chong’s connection with MH370 captain Zaharie Ahmad Shah
  • NGOs voice concern
  • Lim Kit Siang says disappearances of activists indication Malaysia becoming “rogue state”

It’s hard to ignore the ominous disappearance of activists and the unnatural lack of news on what’s going on.

Former Petaling Jaya city councillor Peter Chong, 54, is the fifth person to have gone missing in strange circumstances in four months.

There is still little or no news on the fate of the other four: Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth; Perlis Hope founder Amri Che Mat; and Pastor Raymond Koh.

Speaking to FMT, Darryl, the son of Peter Chong, said he last saw his father at their house on Apr 5. The family lost contact with Chong a couple of days later. A police report was made on Apr 8.

In a Facebook post dated Mar 31, Chong had written of his “strange experience” when a stranger approached him while he was walking to a stall he frequented for breakfast.

His Facebook page also showed that Chong had attended prayer gatherings for Raymond Koh.

Chong used to work as an assistant to PKR’s Subang MP Sivarasa Rasiah.

According to Klang MP Charles Santiago, he had met Chong more than 10 years ago when they were taking on a case against the government.

In a report by The Sun Daily, Santiago said Chong, who is a Christian, was a committed activist. Referring to Koh’s case, he said Chong was neither a preacher nor did he evangelise and as such his disappearance came as a shock.

FMT also revealed that Chong was a close friend of Zaharie Ahmad Shah, captain of MH370 which mysteriously vanished three years ago. They were comrades in PKR and became friends after meeting at a community event in Subang Jaya in 2012.

Chong had vigorously defended Zaharie against speculations of possible responsibility for the incident in interviews with the press, in the aftermath of the plane’s disappearance. He had also attended vigils and other events dedicated to the passengers on board the missing plane.

In a photo of the two buddies, the pilot was wearing a t-shirt with the words “democracy is dead”.

A life member of PKR, Zaharie campaigned for the party in the 2013 general election.

According to the FMT report, Chong said that Zaharie was “angry at corruption and how the courts were being abused” to allegedly push politically motivated charges against PKR de facto head Anwar Ibrahim who is now serving a five-year jail sentence for a sodomy conviction.

Meanwhile, Chong’s friend, Raden Ahmad revealed to FMT that they were involved in organising a talent contest to bring Muslim models to the fore. They had been preparing for the fashion event’s gala 2017 edition, which is scheduled for August.

Raden said he last met Chong on Mar 5 during a filming session to promote the Muslim Model Show and had subsequently communicated with him over WhatsApp.

“Peter had planned to meet me on Apr 5 itself but this got cancelled because of work commitments,” he said. “However, he had sent me a message to take good care of the models. I regret not meeting him that day.”

FMT also reported that electoral watchdog Bersih 2.0 has requested for an “urgent meeting” with the nation’s top cop over the mysterious disappearances.

In a statement, Bersih’s steering committee members said: “Indeed, this is a very sad day for all Malaysians that disappearances are happening here in our country. Yet, there have been few assurances or news from the police on their efforts to locate the whereabouts of these missing persons.

Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) executive director Sevan Doraisamy said having five such missing cases in four months is a national disgrace.

“Any further delays in the search and rescue mission of the missing individuals would leave a black mark on national security. With the government aiming to become a developed nation, the state of human rights and civil liberties are supposed to be important pillars. What is happening now is the shrinking of civil liberties. The authority’s failure in solving this case and bringing the rest back safely in the near future would be a failure of the home ministry and the failure of the government.”

In a report by the Malay Mail Online, DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang said that the five cases of disappearing activists were an indication that Malaysia was becoming a “rogue state”.

Malay Mail Online

“Such disappearances have never happened in the country in the past sixty years. What has happened to Malaysia and why are these disappearances happening now?” he said in a statement.

Kuala Lumpur police have set up a task force to look into the disappearance of Chong, according to KL police chief Amar Singh, who said the task force was formed after the police report was lodged by the family. He added that Bukit Aman was also involved in the probe.

Selangor police have also set up a special task force to investigate Koh’s abduction but so far there has been no progress. Police said that Koh’s abduction was possibly linked to the work of religious extremists as there were claims, including a police report lodged against him in January, that alleged he had attempted to proselytise a group of young Muslims in Perlis.

The voices of NGOs and the concerned public are growing louder, mounting pressure on the authorities to do more in solving the disappearances and raising questions on this unprecedented disturbing state of affairs. We pray for the safety and return of the five missing people, and what have to be forthcoming are answers to the many questions. No news is not good news.

Related reports:

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