Pastor Koh and Amri: 1000 days of disappearance

The following speech was given by HAKAM President, Dato’ Dr. Gurdial Singh Nijar, at the memorial held for the 1000th day of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat disappearance, on 16th November 2019.

Pastor Raymond Koh, and Amri Che Mat.

1000 days of disappearance

This event marks one of the most tragic developments in the law and order and governance history of the country. It has introduced a word in our vocabulary that was completely alien to us. The word: “enforced disappearance”. Even lawyers are slowly coming to terms with what it really encompasses. Stripped of legalese it means that the State (through any of its agencies) abducts a person and makes him disappear.

What is this function about? It is a reminder – a stark reminder – of how low we have spiralled down into a terrible abyss in our law and order framework. It mars the governance and Rule of Law ethos that New Malaysia is seeking to establish as part of its reform agenda.

Let me recount some significant milestones and events in the incidents.

  1. There was a certain amount of inertia by the authorities when the initial disappearance was reported on the same day shortly by a witness to the abduction – a law chambering person Roshan. Only the strenuous efforts of the children Esther and Jonathan yielded the smoking gun – a video that showed a 50-second professionally-executed abduction operation by a convoy of 7 vehicles – replete with 15 or so masked baclava clad personnel. And in the morning in a well-known residential area.

 

  1. The follow up seemed to lack the rigour and robustness that our special branch and police have a reputation for. Each time the investigations ended in an un-penetrate-able blank wall.

 

  1. To its credit, it was SUHAKAM that took up the cudgels to initiate hearings into the inexplicable disappearances of our fellow human beings.

 

  1. The hearings were characterised by some extraordinary events. The more significant ones:

 

  1. Early on in the hearing, there was a threat to open investigation papers against the lawyers for misleading the enquiry into implicating the police. This ended with an apology by the police when it was established that the alleged misleading evidence was an extract from the webpage of the police.
  2. Midway through the hearing, at a critical stage as evidence was mounting showing complicity, the then IGP issued a letter to say that SUHAKAM cease the hearing as they had now found a person – one Lam Chang Nam – which their investigations showed had kidnapped the good Pastor. Along with several others at large. This letter was on 15 January 2018. The SUHAKAM Act does say that once criminal proceedings commence its hearings and proceedings should cease.
  3. What was remarkable about this dramatic turn of events was that high police officials had testified earlier on oath that the special task force had established that Lam was a liar who was trying to extort money from the family by falsely alleging that he had information where to find the Pastor. And was being prosecuted for that.
  4. Former and then IGP Tan Sri Khalid said that Lam was not involved in the abduction. And that the abduction was tied up with some group in Thailand.
  5. It took sometime but we successfully convinced SUHAKAM to continue with the enquiry. On the basis that the charge against Lam and the issue of enforced disappearance were different. The latter was about whether or not the state (or any agency) was involved in the abduction, regardless of who had carried it out. SUHAKAM delivered a comprehensive and remarkably lucid judgment on this point.
  6. This charge against Lam: There is an incredulous paucity of information on the pace this case against Lam is proceeding. And a distinct lack of publicity. He is charged under section 365 of the Penal Code, which reads: Whoever kidnaps or abducts any person with intent to cause that person to be secretly and wrongfully confined, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine. This implies that the police investigations show that Lam has secretly confined the person. What and where?

The Findings

  1. SUHAKAM found that:

 

  1. Both Amri and Pastor Koh were victims of enforced disappearance;
  2. The abduction was executed by or with the support of state agents -the Special Branch;
  3. Both were targeted for allegedly being anti-Islam.

The follow-up

  1. SUHAKAM’s long and thorough inquiry had established the ‘what’. And ‘how’. What remained was the ‘who’; who authorised it and who carried it out.

 

  1. The logical follow-up should have been to carry out an independent and thorough investigation focused on who perpetrated it and flushing out the culprits; and taking appropriate action.

 

  1. However, the government at first dithered, then appointed a taskforce whose membership raised grave concerns; and finally after the removal and resignation of some members, the taskforce seems to be on track to conduct and conclude their work.

 

  1. Nonetheless there are feedbacks of disquieting features as to the way the inquiry is being conducted. As a preliminary observation there seems to be no publicity as to its proceedings. What happened to the requirement for transparency and accountability?

As to other facets – prudence being the better part of valour – we need not air here as there could well be potential legal redress contemplated if there is dissatisfaction with the process and outcome of the taskforce in its investigation into the clear and damning findings of SUHAKAM.

Conclusion

1000 days of an unsolved clear crime is a grave blot to any functioning democracy. The government must leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of this and restore Pastor Koh and Amri to the fold of his family and friends – which include all of us gathered here today.

While I have the floor, may I also add that as President of HAKAM, the National Human Rights Society (incidentally founded by our first and third Prime Ministers), and on its behalf we add our voice and commitment to the quest for the search for truth and justice in maintaining and upholding human rights; which includes our utter abhorrence and condemnation of this crime of ‘enforced disappearance’.

May this 1000 days’ event trigger a fresh resolve and impetus to banish from our body politic and country the scourge represented by the enforced disappearance of Pastor Koh and Amri.

 

Gurdial Singh Nijar (Dato’, Dr.)

16 November 2019

Isteri harap polis maklum perkembangan kes Pastor Koh

Sumber: FMT News

Susanna Liew berkata, beliau hanya tahu mengenai penahanan 4 suspek dalam kes suaminya melalui laporan media. Gambar dipetik dari FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Susanna Liew berharap polis akan menghubunginya untuk mengadakan pertemuan dan memaklumkan perkembangan terkini berhubung kehilangan suaminya, Pastor Raymond Koh lebih 4 bulan lalu.

Liew dalam kenyataan hari ini berkata, beliau hanya tahu mengenai penahanan 4 suspek dalam kes suaminya melalui laporan media.

“Seperti pengumuman sebelumnya yang dibuat IGP (ketua polis negara) kepada media mengenai penculikan suami saya pada 6 April dan 2 Mei, saya tidak dimaklumkan mengenai sebarang perkembangan, petunjuk atau tangkapan polis.

“Seperti rakyat Malaysia lain, semua yang saya tahu adalah apa yang saya baca dalam media,” katanya yang berharap polis akan memberi penjelasan penuh berhubung pengumuman pada 6 April dan 24 Mei lalu.

Semalam, Ketua Polis Negara, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar dilaporkan berkata, pihaknya kini mempunyai lebih banyak petunjuk berkaitan kehilangan Koh ekoran operasi berkaitan dadah pada awal minggu lalu. Read more

Activist’s wife grateful Suhakam is probing his disappearance

Source: FMT News

Norhayati Mohd Ariffin says she is disappointed with the way the authorities are handling her husband’s case. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Norhayati Mohd Ariffin is grateful that the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) is now probing the disappearance of her activist husband, Amri Che Mat.

“My family, friends and I want to thank Suhakam, especially its (chairman) Razali Ismail, for their concern, and their sense of responsibility to uphold the human rights that should have been accorded to my husband and the three others,” she said in a statement today.

Norhayati was referring to the three other activists who have also gone missing since late last year.

The trio were Pastor Raymond Koh, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth Hilmi.

Norhayati said she was disappointed with the way the authorities had handled her husband’s mysterious disappearance. Read more

IGP: Cops probing group for linking authorities in cases of missing activists

Source: The Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR, May 24 ― Police are investigating a group for alleging that the authorities are involved in several cases of missing activists, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said today.

Khalid said the matter is being investigated under Section 504 (b) of the Penal Code, which deals with the intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace.

“This is a serious allegation and we will not allow them to take this opportunity to make baseless accusations.

“If you have evidence, bring it to us and we will take action. Don’t try to ‘spin’ the situation by making it seem as though the authorities are involved,” he said to reporters during a press conference held at the Federal police headquarters today. Read more

Human rights group calls for investigation into abductions

Source: The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: The International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) has urged Malaysian authorities to conduct swift and impartial investigations into two cases of disappearances.

FIDH made the call after submitting the cases of missing persons Pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat to the United Nations Working Group on Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID).

WGEID receives and reviews cases of enforced disappearance and transmits them to governments concerned to request that an investigation be carried out.

Between 1980 and 2016, WGEID received only reports of disappearances in Malaysia. Neither case is still open.

“It is extremely troubling that the spectre of enforced disappearance has reared its ugly head in Malaysia,” said FIDH president Dimitris Christopoulos in a statement on Tuesday.

“Malaysian authorities must immediately investigate the disappearance of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh in order to determine their whereabouts and safely return them to their families,” he said. Read more

Suhakam launches independent probe into four missing activists

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail says the rights watchdog has been urged to assist the families of the missing four activists in investigating and locating them. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail says the rights watchdog has been urged to assist the families of the missing four activists in investigating and locating them. — Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 21 ― The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) will carry out its own investigation into the disappearance of three pastors and a social activist who have all been missing for months.

Suhakam chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail said the rights watchdog has been urged to assist the families of the missing four in investigating and locating them, as well as to serve as a “channel of communication” between the families, the police and government.

“Suhakam joins in the concern of all parties and will conduct an independent investigation into the matter in line with its statutory mandate,” he said in a statement today.

Suhakam’s statement come after it received a memorandum from local human rights group Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and other groups on behalf of the families of the missing four.

Today, Suhakam stressed that everyone has the right to not be arbitirarily deprived of their life; the right to be protected against torture, and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment; the right to liberty and security; and the right to respect for family life. Read more

IGP: Only Pastor Koh abducted, the rest just missing

Source: The Malay Mail Online

Solidarity vigil by civil societies over four missing persons in the last four months in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, April 8, 2017. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

Solidarity vigil by civil societies over four missing persons in the last four months in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur, April 8, 2017. ― Picture by Saw Siow Feng for the MMO.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — Bukit Aman has warned several parties including the Bar Council from allegedly confusing the public over a recent spate of missing activist, especially over social media.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar said from the five cases claimed to be abductions, only Pastor Raymond Koh’s case is confirmed as one, while three other cases are classified as missing people, and Peter Chong had in fact fled the country.

“I see that it has been made viral, all these people have been kidnapped. I want to warn those who want to confuse, this is not true.

“These five people have not been kidnapped. We have proof only one person has been abducted, that is Pastor Koh,” he told reporters during a press conference at Bukit Aman today. Read more

Nur Jazlan rejects talk of state role in abductions

Source: FMT News

He says police are investigating and the public shouldn't listen to rumours. Pic from FMT News.

He says police are investigating and the public shouldn’t listen to rumours. Pic from FMT News.

PETALING JAYA: Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed has rejected a suggestion that political interests may be behind the abduction of church leader Raymond Koh and the disappearance of another pastor and his wife, a welfare activist and a former aide to Subang MP R Sivarasa.

“The public shouldn’t entertain rumours,” Nur Jazlan told FMT when asked to comment on such a suggestion by Bersih 2.0 steering committee member Thomas Fann.

Speaking at a solidarity gathering for the missing four last Saturday, Fann said: “Since the release of the CCTV footage of Pastor Raymond’s abduction, many Malaysians have come to the conclusion that this looks like a state-sponsored group.”

He was referring to social media chatter and street rumours. A point raised in the rumours is that all of the missing persons, except former Sivarasa aide Peter Chong, are associated with religious activities that Malaysian authorities may not approve of. Read more

HAKAM Statement: HAKAM Demands Action in Response to Recent Forced Disappearances

pdfSTATEMENT DATED 10 April 2017

HAKAM Demands Action in Response to Recent Forced Disappearances

Hakam is deeply concerned to hear that Peter Chong, an activist, has been missing since Friday the 7th of April 2017.

This is the latest in a series of such incidents where the abduction and disappearance, in some circumstances, indicate the use of extra legal means by highly trained individuals.  This has caused disquiet in the country over the last several months, as such incidents are unheard of in Malaysia.

Read more