Two years since the disappearance of Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh in broad daylight, his family has asked the country’s Prime Minister to order a new investigation into his kidnapping.
“It has already been two years and until now there’s no result [of the inquiry]. We are at our wits’ end. We don’t know what else to do than to appeal to the highest authority to look into this matter and resolve it,” said his wife Susanna Liew, adding that she admired Malaysia’s new Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad’s commitment to the rule of law.
A representative of the Prime Minister’s office, who received the memorandum from the family and church leaders, said he would do his best to bring their request before the PM.
Pastor Koh was abducted by at least 15 masked men driving black 4×4s. They ambushed his car in a military-precision operation that was caught on CCTV. He was bundled out of his car and carried away; his vehicle was also taken and has not been found. Video footage of the abduction was shared widely and shocked the nation.
An investigation into his abduction, as well as the disappearance of three other people with similar socio-religious profiles, held by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) was concluded in December last year.
Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Hilmy were last seen in November 2016, while Shia Muslim activist Amri Che Mat was abducted in a similar style as pastor Koh. Christians and Shia Muslims are both minorities in Malaysia, where Sunni Islam is the majority faith.
Koh’s wife told the inquiry panel at the end of 2017 that she and her husband had been repeatedly harassed by Malaysian officials since 2011 – when religious authorities raided a charity event they were holding at a church – and had been stopped for questioning several times by immigration and Special Branch officers when entering or leaving the country. She said she had even considered emigrating to Australia because of the stress.
The inquiry, which took just more than a year, is expected to release its findings on 6 March.
During the public hearings CCTV footage emerged showing the kidnapping of Pastor Koh in broad daylight and with a military precision in under 46 seconds. A witness also stepped forward who was able to mention the model and licence plate of the car used in the kidnapping. But the police said the plate was a fake.
Furthermore, in May a whistleblower approached Che Mat’s wife, Norhayati, and told her about the involvement of the police in her husband’s abduction. However, just a day before the whistleblower was due to give testimony to the inquiry, he retracted his statements, denying ever having made the claim.
In June, Susanna Liew and Che Mat’s wife wrote an open letter to Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohamad, also asking for an immediate and independent investigation into the disappearance of their husbands.
The Koh family, together with church leaders and rights activists, have now asked Dr. Mahathir to order a new investigation by a completely new team of independent investigators.
Pastor Koh’s daughter, Esther, told a local source she is suffering from mental torture not knowing where or how her father is.
Her sister Elizabeth said she and her father had the same interest in music; she missed his random humming during the day and his strumming of their “baby-sized” guitar at home.
“We are counting the days to be reconciled with him, but we are also prepared for anything,” said their mum Susanna.