KUALA LUMPUR: A Christian group and the family of Pastor Raymond Koh, one of the victims of alleged “enforced disappearances”, have urged the government to act on the recommendations of an inquiry held by the Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam).
Koh’s daughter, Esther Koh, hoped the government will quickly set up a task force to investigate those who had allegedly abducted Koh and also Perlis-based activist Amri Che Mat.
“We would like a categorical assurance from the government that these crimes will never be carried out again in our country,” she said at a press conference organised by the Christian Federation of Malaysia (CFM) at the Council of Churches in Petaling Jaya today.
“In this country, even if you are a drug trafficker, murderer, rapist or even a terrorist, you have rights.
“You must first be arrested, investigated, charged and then put on trial. You have a right to defend yourself.
“My father was denied this right. He was simply abducted by the police.”
In April, Suhakam had held Bukit Aman’s Special Branch responsible for the disappearance of Koh, who was seen being abducted by several men in broad daylight in February 2017.
Many speculated that his abduction might have been connected to his alleged attempts at proselytising and spreading Christianity, although his family has dismissed such claims.
Koh’s wife, Susanna Koh, told FMT she still believed there was a cover-up.
“Suhakam’s findings have also indicated that.
“Suhakam just had an inquiry. They had limited powers, and even that was revealing in the way they (the police) did their job, the way they tried to cover up or make up stories and things like that,” she said, adding that a civil suit will be the family’s last resort.
She added that since Suhakam’s damning allegations, only Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had asked to meet her.
“I gave him a copy of the Suhakam findings and I think he has gone through it. He has come up with a statement that there will be no cover-up.”
Susanna said she had personally appealed to him to set up the task force within a month.
“It’s already been three weeks; it’s tough. I hope they will set it up within a month. I don’t think it’s that difficult.”
She hoped the task force would come under the attorney-general and would be given the power to prosecute and open documents that the police have said have been classified under the Official Secrets Act (OSA).
During the 18-month-long Suhakam inquiry, she said police had repeatedly refused to provide certain documents, stating that they came under the OSA.
Earlier, Susanna had dismissed various statements from critics who had said Suhakam’s findings were “hearsay”.
“We have been through 18 months of the inquiry. We have seen the way they had questioned the police.”
She also praised panel chairman Mah Weng Kwai for being comprehensive in his report, covering a lot of possibilities.
“A lot of work was put in,” she said.
The Christian Federation of Malaysia said it will explore “every avenue” available to bring the plight of the families of Koh and Amri to the government, Parliament and Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“We call on all authorities to leave no stone unturned to locate and secure the immediate release of Koh and Amri.”
CFM chairman Archbishop Julian Leow Beng Kim said they had already engaged in discussions with some Cabinet members.
“After this, CFM will be writing to the prime minister to secure an appointment to see the families of these ‘enforced disappearances’,” he said.
Mahathir had said Suhakam’s statement on the disappearance of Koh was merely hearsay and the commission needs to produce some evidence to prove its claims.
Queried on the role of Inspector-General of Police Mohamad Fuzi Harun, Mahathir said the IGP was the Special Branch head in 2017 but he is going to retire in May.
“We will let him retire first and then we will have another IGP who will conduct an investigation,” he had said.