Press statement by Kua Kia Soong, SUARAM Adviser 27 June 2019

The Minister of Home Affairs is one of the most senior officers in the Cabinet. His chief responsibility is the maintenance of our country’s internal security through the country’s large police force which is under his jurisdiction. Yet, as we glance at today’s news, we are shown the stark contradiction in the performance by the police and Home Minister. On the one hand, they claim confidence in tackling the threat of international terrorism while on the other, they continue to draw a blank when it comes to tracing Pastor Koh, Amri and Indira Gandhi’s daughter!  The Malaysian Police Force’s apparent “selective efficiency” gives us cause for serious concern.

Where in the world is Pastor Koh et al?

Koh, 63, was abducted from his car by a group of more than 10 men in a convoy of vehicles on Feb 13, 2017. CCTV footage showed at least three black SUVs were involved in the abduction. Another missing Malaysian, Amri, 44, who co-founded charity organisation Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016. His wife, Norhayati Ariffin, said witnesses saw five vehicles blocking the path of Amri’s car before he was whisked away, just 550 metres from their home in Bukit Chabang, Perlis. Then there is also the abduction of Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth who were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.

Likewise, the police haven’t got a clue as to the whereabouts of Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband and daughter. The kindergarten teacher from Ipoh, Perak had challenged the unilateral conversion to Islam of her three children by their converted father all the way to the Federal Court in Putrajaya. She had won her legal challenge but was frustrated by the apathy displayed by the authorities in bringing back her youngest child as ordered by the court nearly 10 years ago.

The Task Force is yet another farce

In April, the Suhakam inquiry concluded that Pastor Koh et al were victims of enforced disappearance, that they were carried out by agents of the state, namely the Malaysian Special Branch. The Government’s response has been to set up a “Task Force”, made up of six Muslim men, including three police officers, one of whom is Mokhtar Mohd Noor, who was at the Suhakam hearing submitting on behalf of the police!

The wife of Pastor Raymond Koh has correctly criticised the composition of the task force set up to probe the disappearance of Koh and Amri Che Mat. Susanna Liew said in a statement that the government had ignored the family’s suggestion to include a member of the Bar Council, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and a representative of an NGO; it “does not include any woman or any other member of a different race or religion to reflect the composition of this country and the muhibbah spirit which the Pakatan Harapan government promised will be implemented if they come to power”.

Only then, she said, would the task force have “reflected a more balanced, independent, transparent and representative task force which would be recognised by the public as independent, trustworthy and fair”.

The statement by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, that the task force might start with Amri’s case to avoid sub judice as there was a pending court case related to the abduction of Koh, is unbelievably gauche when Suhakam had concluded that the Special Branch had a hand in Pastor Koh and Amri’s disappearance. The court case against one Lam Chang Nam for kidnapping has nothing to do with the enforced disappearance of Pastor Koh and Amri and they know it.

Malaysians expect absolute professionalism of the police

The Malaysian police has been trained and tested since the days of the Emergency which started in 1948. They have fought insurgents in the jungle as well as in the urban areas for more than thirty years. The methods used by the Malaysian police have often been found to be excessive but they have proven that they can nip any altercation very swiftly in the bud when they want to.

The Malaysian Special Branch prides itself with being one of the best in this part of the world but in cases such as the enforced disappearance of Pastor Koh and Amri as well as Indira Gandhi’s daughter, their lack of credibility and professionalism is shocking.

The Home Minister, who is responsible for the Police should deal with these cases with the professionalism we expect of the Malaysian police. He can start by re-appointing a more credible task force and end this charade that has dragged on for far too long, causing untold suffering to the families involved and massive distrust in their professionalism by all Malaysians.

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