Suhakam inquiry: Koh family disappointed, says no updates from cops

Investigating officer for the case, Supari Muhammad

KUALA LUMPUR: A witness who testified today in the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry into missing persons passed the buck to the task force probing the abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh when he was questioned on updates on the case.

Replying to a question from Philip Koh, one of the lawyers for Koh’s family, investigating officer for the case, Supari Muhammad, from the Petaling Jaya police headquarters, said the task force had not been disbanded but said he was unaware of any developments.

Philip had earlier questioned why letters sent by him in May and June to the task force and Supari had yet to be replied despite police being instructed previously by then inspector-general of police Khalid Abu Bakar to always keep the Koh family in the loop.

When asked who then was the “most senior officer” who could keep Koh’s family and his wife, Susanna Liew, posted on the latest developments of the findings of the task force, Supari passed the buck to Selangor CID chief Fadzil Ahmat, saying the task force was under his purview.

“I can’t say … Fadzil is the chairman,” Supari said.

At this point, Philip said he was asked to relay to the inquiry the Koh family’s disappointment over the matter and urged the task force and police to keep them in the loop as promised. To this, Supari said there were no updates to relay in the first place.

Supari, nevertheless, said police had been in regular contact with the Koh family and sometimes they would phone him directly for updates. But in case they were not “comfortable” speaking with him, a Christian inspector had also been tasked with calling them, he said.

“Sometimes, he would go to their house.”

Asked if the police were looking into a report filed by the wife of missing activist Amri Che Mat alleging that police were involved in her husband’s abduction, Supari said he was not privy to the matter. The inquiry is hearing Amri’s disappearance concurrently with that of Koh’s.

Quizzed by Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai on the case of Uber driver Lam Chang Nam, who claimed trial in February to charges of kidnapping and confining Koh and extorting RM30,000 from his son on the pretext of securing the pastor’s release, Supari said it was scheduled for mention in November.

Lam, together with seven other suspects still at large, were alleged to have kidnapped Koh, 64, or Keng Joo Koh, after confining him along Jalan SS4B/10A, Kelana Jaya, at 10.45am on Feb 13 last year. Lam has since pleaded not guilty to both charges, and his trial is under way.

The charges meant that Suhakam’s inquiry on Koh’s disappearance could not be continued as it cannot inquire into matters of court proceedings as contained in the Suhakam Act and it was halted until several weeks ago.

Today is the 18th day of the inquiry into Koh’s disappearance.

Koh’s abduction on Feb 13 last year was caught on closed-circuit TV cameras showing several men in balaclavas using black SUVs blocking his Honda Accord in broad daylight in Kelana Jaya.

He has not been seen since.

Many have speculated that Koh’s abduction might have been connected to his alleged attempts to spread Christianity, which his family have dismissed as mere rumours.

The inquiry continues on Oct 15.

The public inquiry is chaired by Suhakam commissioner and former Court of Appeal judge Mah and includes Suhakam commissioners Prof Dr Aishah Bidin and Dr Nik Salida.

The inquiry will consider, among others, whether the cases of Koh, Amri, and Pastor Joshua Hilmy and wife Ruth, were cases of enforced or involuntary disappearance as defined by the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.

They will then present their findings and recommendations to Parliament.

Amri, 44, who co-founded charity organisation Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24 last year.

His wife, Norhayati, had said witnesses saw five vehicles blocking the path of Amri’s car before he was whisked away, just 550 metres from their home in Bukit Chabang, Perlis.

Joshua and his wife, Ruth, meanwhile, were last seen on Nov 30 last year.