Disappeared men’s wives stay aloof of threat to sue Putrajaya

A representative of Susanna Koh and Norhayati Mohd Ariffin say they have not decided on their next course of action.

PETALING JAYA: The families of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat have distanced themselves from a group of lawyers and an NGO that has threatened legal action against the government over the disappearances of the two men.

Sheryll Stothard, who represents the missing men’s wives, Susanna Koh and Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, said the two families have not decided on their next course of action.

“I wish to clarify that Andy Yong and all the lawyers who were present at the press conference organised by him (this morning) do not represent the families of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat,” Stothard said.

“Yong has never spoken with my clients at any time, from the day their husbands were abducted until now.”

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has characterised Koh and Amri, as well as Pastor Joshua Helmy and his wife Ruth, as being victims of enforced disappearances.

This morning, a group of lawyers led by Andy Yong, and the spokesman for Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED), Rama Ramanathan, had threatened to take the federal government to court unless the government meets two demands within a month.

The demands are:

  • the formation of a special task force to investigate what really happened to Koh and Amri;
  • a remedy to be provided to the two families, including firsthand information to be given to them about what had happened to Koh and Amri.

At their press conference this morning, neither Yong nor Rama claimed to represent the families.

Stothard said Susanna and Norhayati understood the anger felt by Malaysians following Suhakam’s findings, but both had not made any decision on their next course of action.

“I would like to assure the Malaysian public that we will make the necessary announcements should there be any material developments going forward.”

Suhakam declared Koh and Amri to be victims of enforced disappearance – a crime against humanity under the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court – after holding a year-long inquiry, at which 40 witnesses had testified.

Amri went missing on Nov 24, 2016, after leaving his home in Perlis, while Koh was abducted in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13, 2017.