Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 4 April 2019

By labelling as “hearsay”, Suhakam’s findings that pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat are victims of “enforced disappearances” by the Malaysian Special Branch, the Prime Minister shows contempt for the country’s Human Rights Commission and for the precious right to human liberty.

The Malaysian Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) is neither an amateur nor insignificant organisation.  Suhakam was set up in 1999 as a serious state-sponsored and state-funded entity  under an act of the legislature with the broad objective of protecting and promoting human rights. Suhakam has held extended public inquiries into the disappearances of Koh, Amri, and two others missing — pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Hilmi — under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act. Headed by three senior respected commissioners, the inquiry into Koh’s case took place over 21 days and heard 16 witnesses.

Any leader of a genuine democratic country founded on the defence of human rights would have responded to such a finding by its National Human Rights Commission with deep concern and an immediate demand for a) answers from the Police Chief and Home Minister and b) the immediate release of these “disappeared” Malaysians. Instead, the PM has disappointed us with his “business as usual” response:

“I don’t know if they (Suhakam) have evidence to prove this is what happened. If they have, of course, we will take it up…But please remember this did not happen during our time. It happened under the previous government. A lot of things were hidden from us and the public,” he said.

Mahathir said Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Mohamad Fuzi Harun will retire soon and that he will be allowed to retire first “… then we will have another IGP who will conduct the investigations.” Fuzi was the former Special Branch chief at the time of the said disappearances.

Such a lackadaisical response by the PM to this unprecedented indictment of the Malaysian Police for such a heinous crime is unacceptable. If the culprits are not apprehended and dealt with severely, no Malaysian will ever trust the Malaysian Police to act with fairness, justice and professionalism.

We expect nothing less than a Special Task Force under the Prime Minister to immediately get to the bottom of this disgraceful blemish on the Malaysian Police Force and its Special Branch in order that these missing Malaysians may regain their liberty and to end the anguish of their long-suffering families. Nothing short of a radical overhaul of the whole Malaysian Police Force, its Special Branch and the Home Ministry can salvage our country from being associated with repressive regimes and banana republics. We remind the PM of the oft quoted judicial dictum that the liberty of any person – hence habeas corpus writs – must be attended to EXPEDITIOUSLY.

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