Travel blacklist an official secret, immigration officer tells inquiry

Immigration assistant director Hamid Momong says he was not the one who classified the travel blacklist as an official secret.

KUALA LUMPUR: An immigration officer who testified in the inquiry proceedings into the disappearance of Raymond Koh today was unable to reveal whether the pastor had been barred from travelling.

Immigration assistant director Hamid Momong said he was unable to access the travel ban information on the missing pastor as it had been classified as secret.

“Before I could access anything, the information there was marked as an official secret. Therefore, I am bound by the Official Secrets Act 1972. The information available is also an official secret, under Section 16A of the act.

“I am unable to do anything or make any comments on the blacklist,” he told the Suhakam inquiry proceedings today.

He was responding to a Suhakam officer who had asked whether there was a travel ban imposed on Koh.

When asked by Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai whether Koh was on the blacklist, Hamid said he was unable to access the information.

“When I wanted to access it, it showed the word secret. But even if I was able to access the information, I would not have been able to divulge it,” he said.

Koh’s family lawyer Philip Koh then asked whether Hamid was the one who had certified the document as an official secret. To this, Hamid said it had been done by another officer.

“Under Section 16A of the act, once the document, information or material is certified as an official secret by either a public officer, a minister, or a menteri besar, it is certified as an official secret.

“It was not me who classified it as an official secret. It was already classified,” he said in response to another question by Mah.

Mah then told all parties to look into whether the information could be declassified for the purpose of the inquiry.

“We are not doubting the officer. What we know is, he did not classify the document and he cannot access it because it is an official secret.

“Therefore, all parties are to check on the law, on whether Section 16A overrides an inquiry of this nature,” he said.

Earlier in today’s proceedings, former Petaling Jaya city councillor Peter Chong, who was asked to present his passport to prove that he went to Thailand last year to look for Koh, said he was unable to do so as he had misplaced it while moving house.

Social activist Peter Chong.

However, the social activist promised to return to Batu Pahat and try to locate the old passport, saying he would do his best to make it available by next Monday.

Chong, in the inquiry, also produced a handwritten note by a police officer with the Pattaya tourist police, which contained the contact number of the Malaysian embassy as well as two significant dates last year: April 7, when he was purportedly taken, and April 15, when he was eventually released.

“There were two police reports, one made by my son on April 8, and another made by me on April 20 on my missing documents,” he added.

Chong said he had given his statement to the police twice: one to an ASP Chua at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport on the day he returned from Thailand, and the second to ASP Supari, who was in charge of Koh’s case.

Koh was abducted by a group of masked men at Jalan SS4B/10, less than 100m from the police housing complex in Kelana Jaya, on Feb 13 while he was driving his Honda Accord with the plate number ST 5515 D.

He was heading to a friend’s house in Kelana Jaya at the time. A video of the abduction showed a well-planned operation involving more than 10 men and seven vehicles.

The inquiry resumes on Sept 7.