Inquiry done, now investigate, Suhakam commissioner tells task force on missing persons

Suhakam commissioner Mah Weng Kwai, who headed an inquiry into missing persons Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat.

PETALING JAYA: The Suhakam commissioner who chaired an inquiry which has blamed the police for the disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat said the onus is now on the recently announced task force to get to the bottom of the mystery.

“I’ve said this before: the new team has to do a lot of spade work and ground work to go and dig further into what actually happened,” Mah Weng Kwai, who chaired the year-long inquiry told FMT.

He said the task force will now have the opportunity to investigate the cases again, including speaking to witnesses whom the police failed to question in their previous probe.

He said the witnesses would also include those who did not come forward during the inquiry by Suhakam, the Malay acronym for the Human Rights Commission.

But Mah said there is no question of having another inquiry in order to speak to the same witnesses who spoke to the Suhakam panel.

“It has to be an investigation, not another inquiry,” said Mah.

“When the police investigate, they would have to trace and dig further to see who are the relevant witnesses that can give credible evidence.”

Koh has been missing since Feb 13, 2017 while Amri, the founder of charity body Perlis Hope, went missing on Nov 24, 2016.

In April, an inquiry by Suhakam concluded that both were victims of enforced disappearance and blamed Bukit Aman’s Special Branch for it.

The composition of the task force announced by the home ministry last week has been widely criticised, with the families of the missing men questioning the inclusion of a police officer who had represented the force during the Suhakam hearing.

The task force includes former judge Abd Rahim Uda as head, former director of the police’s legal department Mokhtar Mohd Noor; director of the police’s Integrity and Standards Compliance Department Zamri Yahya; director of operations at the Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) Muhammad Bukhari Ab Hamid; legal officer at the public prosecution division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers Mohd Sophian Zakaria; and secretary at the Police Force Commission (SPP) for the home ministry, Mohd Russaini Idrus.

Critics have also raised issues such as the task force members’ diversity as well as the absence of civil society activists and lawyers.

Mah agreed, saying Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador had stated that there would be no police officers in the task force.

He echoed concerns over the inclusion of Mokhtar, who made submissions on behalf of the police at the inquiry.

Mah said any conflict of interest would not inspire public confidence.

“The question will always be asked whether there will be conflict of interest arising,” he said.

“In order to avoid all these issues, they should have gotten others to be on the panel.”

He said Suhakam had recommended members of the Bar Council and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission to be made part of the panel.

“It looks as though none of these suggestions were taken up,” he added.

The task force has six months to come up with a report to be submitted to the Cabinet.