Pastor Raymond Koh: 1,000 Days of Unanswered Questions

1989
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It has been 1,000 days since Raymond Koh was abducted from his car in broad daylight and his family continue to demand to know his whereabouts.

At a dinner in his remembrance last night, Koh’s wife Susanna Liew questioned the lack of results from the police’s 33-month investigation into the case.

“After 1,000 days, what has the police to show for their investigation?

Nazir Sufari/TMI

“Nothing. No updates, no new leads,” she said at the event in Kuala Lumpur.

During the event, HIV activist Marhalem Mansor shared how he and his family deeply missed Koh. He credited him for being the inspiration behind his shelter for people living with HIV -Rumah Teduhan Harapan.

“Until today, my children, the youngest who is now 10 years old, is still asking ‘when will uncle Raymond come to our house again?’.

“We always talk about the good things he has done for us. There is nothing in common between Raymond Koh, me and my family. But because of his humility and his servanthood, he embraced us wholeheartedly.

Annabelle Lee/Malaysiakini

“Whenever we think of him, we want to see him (again) one day,” Marhalem said while holding back tears.

Suhakam’s public inquiry previously concluded that Koh, a Christian pastor and community worker, had been a victim of enforced disappearance in an operation carried out by Bukit Aman’s Special Branch.

In response, the Home Ministry established a special task force in June this year and gave it six months to scrutinise the inquiry findings.

Bukit Aman’s former legal unit chief Mokhtar Mohd Noor, who had represented the police during one Suhakam hearing, was one of the six task force members.

Mokhtar withdrew after Koh’s family questioned his neutrality.

During her speech, Susanna said she had initially welcomed news about the task force but now wondered if it was sincere in getting to the bottom of the case.

This is because she and her family have been summoned to the police station twice in the past three months and were asked “irrelevant” questions about her husband’s friends, finances, and faith.

“I told them the questions are irrelevant. You should investigate his enemies, the one who sent Raymond two bullets in 2011, the one who sent me a white powder supposedly containing anthrax and a grave note telling they will kill us.

Firdaus Latif

“My question is are they using the task force to intimidate the family and to criminalise Pastor Raymond Koh?” she asked.

Liew looked calm, but her eyes shone with the determination to keep fighting for answers not only for her husband, but for others like activist Amri Che Mat as well as Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, who all disappeared in the span of three months of each other.

Liew said she was moved by how Malaysians of all walks of faith and race had stood with her family during this difficult time, adding that it showed her how united Malaysia could be.

Bar Council deputy president Roger Chan hoped that the task force would conduct an independent, thorough, and prompt investigation into the case.

He also urged for its terms of reference to be made public.

FMT

“The Bar urges for the immediate release of terms of reference so that the probe can be completed in a transparent manner. The public has the right to know,” he told the audience.

Among those seen at the dinner were Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh, Subang MP Wong Chen, and Perlis PKR chairman and Amri’s friend Mohamad Faisol Abdul Rahman who represented their NGO Perlis Hope.

Wong urged the families to push MPs to bring up the issue in Parliament.

“They should ask parliamentarians to bring this matter up again.”

Faisol, who spoke for Amri’s family, recounted the frustration of the latter’s family as his friend’s mother wondered whether her son was still alive or dead.

He hoped the task force would provide them with some answers.

“We still hope that the task force will be able to solve this matter. Maybe the report will be out in December or January. We hope the report brings good news for us,” Faisol said.

Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai, Suaram executive director Sevan Doraisamy, Citizens Against Enforced Disappearance (Caged) spokesperson Rama Ramanathan, former diplomat Dennis Ignatius, and lawyers Gurdial Singh Nijar, Jerald Gomez, and Steven Thiru were also present.

Ignatius called upon the current PH leaders to stand up and demand that the case to be solved.

He said it is hypocritical that Malaysian leaders most of them are prominent human rights advocates themselves are condemning the atrocities against the minorities in other countries when there are still forced disappearances in this country.

“It is shocking as well that so many of the politicians who were once outspoken advocate for justice and human rights activists who were so vocal when they were in the Opposition now sit silently in the government benches.

“Where are their voices when it is most needed? Why do they looked the other way and pretend they didn’t notice that Pastor Koh is still missing 1,000 days after he was booked up?” he asked.

Annabelle Lee/Malaysiakini

“At the end of the day, the only likely conclusion we can draw, ugly as it may be, is that agents of the state, quite possibly acting with the tacit approval of the religious establishment, abducted and very likely murdered some of them.

“In other words, this was no rogue operation but part of a well-planned and well-executed campaign against troublesome religious workers,” he said.

He said PH had failed to fulfil its rhetoric and had acted in the same “insincerity, deceit and disingenuity” as the Barisan Nasional government when it came to the disappearances.

“Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad himself set the tone for this indifference to injustice when he dismissed the Suhakam findings on enforced disappearances as mere ‘hearsay.’

Firdaus Latif

“So much for his oft-repeated claim that his administration would be committed to the rule of law,” said Ignatius, who last served as high commissioner to Canada before retiring after 36 years in the foreign service.

The Koh family’s lawyer, Gurdial Singh, said the country’s law and order has taken a hit.

“This is a stark reminder of how we have spiralled down into a terrible abyss.”

FMT

To have a crime not solved after 1,000 days is a great blow to any functioning democracy, he said.

“The government must get to the bottom of this…(and) restore Koh and Amri to their friends and family.”