A suspect has been detained and the police are now investigating into Koh’s activities, as well as questioning those who are seeking help from international groups. The most important question remains unanswered, “Where is Raymond Koh?”
- Reports made alleging Koh was trying to proselytise Muslims
- Calls for police to solve abduction first
- Case brought to attention of UN Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances
- Activists claim missing activists are “enforced disappearances”, which means “abductions by state agents”
It’s been more than 100 days since Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted on Feb 13, and more than two months of an almost total “media blackout” on the case after IGP Khalid Abu Bakar blamed intense publicity for hampering investigations and putting the victim in danger.
There is still no news of what happened to Koh but what is now known instead is a suspect was detained last week – but only announced by the police yesterday, and the pastor is now under probe for allegedly attempting to convert Muslims.
According to IGP Khalid, the suspect, a local, was detained in a northern state.
“We believe he is relevant to the ongoing investigation into the abduction of Koh.
“Let us investigate the case thoroughly,” he said at a press conference in Bukit Aman.
He cautioned certain parties not to make baseless allegations in connection with the abduction.
“We are not sitting on the case. We have never stopped investigating his abduction and efforts to locate him are ongoing,” he said, adding that the police were focusing on every angle of the case.
He said police were also investigating if Koh was trying to proselytise Muslims, and ascertaining if this had anything to do with his abduction.
“We have to investigate as police reports have been made,” he said.
On claims that the authorities were connected to Koh’s disappearance, the IGP sternly warned activists or other parties against spinning the facts.
“If you don’t have any evidence or proof, don’t make allegations. It is a very serious allegation,” he said.
Koh’s case has alarmed Malaysians because the CCTV footage of the abduction showed a professionally executed operation and there has been no word about his fate.
Koh’s wife, Susanna Liew said that was disappointed with Khalid for investigating her husband’s alleged proselytising instead of solving his abduction.
A spokesperson for the family said that they were not informed about the arrest of a suspect last week, and like the public, learned about it only yesterday.
“It is unusual that there was no announcement of this at the time of the suspect’s arrest last week,” the spokesperson said.
After 100 days without any leads on Koh’s whereabouts, the family are prepared for the worst but they still harbour the hope that he is alive somewhere.
Koh’s daughters, 32-year-old Esther and 21-year-old Elizabeth, are both fearful for their lives as they believe those responsible for taking their father are still roaming free.
“When we drive, we are always cautious to see who is following us. When we are at home, we make sure we are secure, and the house is secure,” said Esther at a press conference yesterday.
Elizabeth said her father sacrificed his life for those who had less because he knew what it meant to have nothing.
“He only had one pair of clothes and shoes while growing up,” she said.
Liew also bemoaned the fact that there were “no actual updates” from the authorities.
According to The Borneo Post, Liew became increasingly concerned about the lack of commitment to a fair, transparent and accountable investigation to secure Koh’s safe released and bring his abductors and accomplices to justice.
“I have no recourse but to appeal to others for help,” she said.
She added that it is her duty to do her utmost to find out what happened to her husband and to get him justice.
“I owe this to my husband and must ask the difficult questions even if I risk retaliation against me by powerful men,” she said.
Liew sought help from the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (UN WGEID) and International Federation for Human Rights (IFHR).
On May 15, IFHR submitted a communication to the UN WGEID on behalf of Koh’s family. It also did the same on behalf of the family of Amri Che Mat, a social worker from Perlis, who is believed to have been abducted on Nov 24 last year, in much the same manner as Koh.
Since Koh’s case was escalated to the UN WGEID, the police have responded by summoning human rights activists who assisted the family in this.
Yesterday, at 10am, police questioned Sevan Doraisamy, Thomas Fann and Rama Ramanathan at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman.
Khalid said the matter is being investigated under Section 504 (b) of the Penal Code, which deals with the intentional insult to provoke a breach of the peace.
“This is a serious allegation and we will not allow them to take this opportunity to make baseless accusations,” he said.
In responding to the police summons, Fann said, ” I would think that in dealing with such a serious crime that has gone on for 100 days with no progress, shouldn’t the police be focusing on finding answers, instead of harassing those who have raised questions?”
“We were given a set of 20 questions and were asked especially on any foreign party’s interference in regards to our group formation and also on whether our group is registered or not,” Fann told reporters.
Suaram Executive Director Sevan Doraisamy, Engage Chairperson Thomas Fann and Bersih 2.0 Special Committee member Rama Ramanathan are part of the activist group known as Citizen Action Group On Enforced Disappearance (CAGED). The group previously claimed that the cases of missing persons like Pastor Raymond Koh, Amri Che Mat, and Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth, were “enforced disappearances”, a term used for abduction by state agents.
CAGED said they will hold candlelight vigils every last Saturday of the month to keep the issue of Koh and three other missing persons alive.
The next vigil will be held this Saturday, at 8.30pm at Dataran Merdeka.
International organisation Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has also called for the police to enhance efforts to secure Koh’s release instead of trying to investigate allegations against him.
CSW said Koh had been subject to incidents of harassment and threats that warranted closer attention.
“Pastor Raymond Koh works with all people who are in need. The work of people of faith in such communities must be free from threats of violence and intimidation.”
Supporting Koh’s work in Malaysia, CSW said he has undertaken social and charity work among marginalised and underprivileged communities, including people living with HIV/AIDS, rehabilitating drug addicts, as well as single mothers and their children.
The Christian organisation, which describes itself as working for religious freedom through advocacy and human rights in the pursuit of justice, said Malaysia’s international image has been marred over the issue of intolerance.
“Malaysia’s much-touted moderate Muslim image has been tarnished in recent times by the rise of restrictions against non-Muslim minorities,” the organisation said.
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