PETALING JAYA: Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) is the latest to question the lineup of a task force set up to probe the disappearances of two individuals, moments after the wife of one of the missing persons took issue with the selection.
In a statement, the NGO noted that Abd Rahim Uda, the retired High Court judge, who will lead the task force, had in 2011 upheld the coroner’s “open verdict” in the death of Teoh Beng Hock.
CAGED said this was relevant as Rahim’s decision was unanimously overturned by a three-member panel of the Court of Appeal (CoA) in September 2014.
“It is also relevant because the Suhakam (Human Rights Commission of Malaysia) inquiry panel depended on that CoA decision when setting the bar for evidence which led to the conclusion that ‘Special Branch, Bukit Aman, did it’,” it said.
Teoh, an aide to a Selangor assemblyman, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, hours after he was interrogated by the Selangor office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
The NGO also labelled the appointment of Zamri Yahya, the current head of the “integrity” department of the police force as “outrageous”, saying the latter’s department should be investigated by the task force.
It went on to hit out at the “dubious” appointment of Mokhtar Mohd Noor, the former head of the legal department of the police force, as he had appeared for the police during the Suhakam inquiry.
“In fact, he made the closing arguments for the police!”
CAGED also took issue with Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin for saying that Pastor Raymond Koh – one of the two missing men – would be out of the task force’s scope as it would be “sub judice and contempt of court” to investigate the case as a person had been charged with Koh’s disappearance.
This, it said, was “preposterous” as the Suhakam inquiry had established that the said individual, Lam Chang Nam, was charged for a different offence, namely extortion and not for abduction.
Sub judice, CAGED argued, would only come into play if any material which might influence a witness or judge was published. But, in this case, Suhakam’s decision had already been published.
“The ‘task force’ appointment is a blatant attempt to undermine and subvert the unanimous findings of three distinguished, legally-trained, Agong-appointed human rights commissioners – and the home minister claims the Cabinet is behind this!” it said and urged “all right-thinking Malaysians” to reject the special task force.
Earlier today, Putrajaya announced the task force to follow up on Suhakam’s findings that the Special Branch was involved in the disappearance of Koh and activist Amri Che Mat.
Amri’s wife, Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, has cautioned that a member of the task force set up to investigate her husband’s disappearance may face potential conflict of interest.