KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Bar says only concrete and clear action by the authorities will alleviate public fear and anxiety following the recent spate of mysterious disappearances of several Malaysians.
Action is needed to instil confidence in the safety and security of the country and its peoples, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese said in a statement today.
He said the Malaysian Bar was “deeply troubled by the unprecedented mysterious disappearances” of at least five people, including activists and pastors, in separate incidents since November 2016.
Varughese said, “It is shocking and outrageous that a growing number of Malaysians could inexplicably disappear and not be found for days, weeks and months.
“This has never happened before in this country, to the best of our knowledge, and has led to public perception and speculation of the occurrence of forced disappearances.”
He said the security of the country and its people was of paramount importance, not just for its residents but also for visitors and foreign investors.
Varughese said, “The noticeable lack of information on the steps taken by the authorities to locate and recover the five missing persons is most disconcerting, and raises alarming doubts on the adequacy of the safety and security measures in the country.
“This is especially so in the case of Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, as his abduction was captured on video by several closed-circuit television cameras.”
He called on the authorities to “leave no stone unturned” in efforts to locate and secure the release of the five individuals, and to bring the perpetrators of the abduction and disappearances or forced disappearances, to justice without “further delay”.
He also urged the police to provide regular updates on the status of their investigations.
The five who are missing are:
- Social activist and co-founder of charity organisation Perlis Hope, Amri Che Mat, 44. Amri has been missing since Nov 24 last year. His wife Norhayati Ariffin said witnesses had seen five vehicles blocking the path of Amri’s car before he was taken away just 550 metres from their home at Bukit Chabang, Perlis.
- Pastor Joshua Hilmy, 50. He was reportedly last seen on Nov 30, 2016;
- Ruth Hilmy, Pastor Joshua Hilmy’s wife. She was also reportedly last seen on Nov 30, 2016;
- Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, 62. He was abducted from his car by a group of more than 10 men in a convoy of vehicles, on Feb 13, 2017. CCTV footage showed at least three black SUVs were involved in the abduction. After initial investigations, police said his abduction might have been connected to his alleged attempt to spread Christianity; and
- Social activist Peter Chong, 54. The former Petaling Jaya city councillor was reported last seen at his residence on April 5, 2017. Days earlier, on March 31, Chong had posted about a motorcyclist who had accosted him earlier that morning, telling him to be careful as “nowadays a lot of people have suddenly disappeared”.