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.
Koh was once accused of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity. The other pastor, Joshua Hilmy, was once a Muslim. The welfare activist, Amri Che Mat, is said to be active in spreading Shia teachings. Chong is known to have identified himself as a Christian but his activism is political, not religious.
Some of the rumours refer to “enforced disappearance”, a term used by Amnesty International to describe abductions carried out by state officials or people acting with state consent.
S Ambiga, president of human rights society Hakam, in a statement to the press, said a “forced disappearance” would usually be followed by a “refusal to acknowledge the person’s fate and whereabouts, thus putting the person outside the protection of the law”.
The rumours also allege lack of rigour in police investigations. Nur Jazlan denied this. “Police are investigating,” he said.
Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Khalid Abu Bakar told FMT police were doing everything they could to locate the missing persons and deliver them to safety.
Former IGP Musa Hassan, when asked if he knew of enforced disappearances ever happening in Malaysia, said: “That’s just speculation.”
He said it was dangerous to spread such rumours at a time when Malaysia was engaged in fighting terrorism.
“You have to be careful,” he said. “Sensitive issues can anger the public. There are so many extremists here, not just among the Muslims, but also non-Muslims.”
Musa advised members of the public to immediately lodge a police report if they believed they were being stalked or if their safety was directly threatened.
He urged the police to be rigorous in investigating such complaints. “If these incidences are not dealt with properly, they may happen again and again.”
About two weeks before he disappeared, Chong wrote on Facebook about a “strange experience” of being approached by a stranger who told him he supported his activism but advised him to be careful because many people like him had “suddenly disappeared”.
The 54-year-old activist had posted some pictures of himself attending a prayer service for Koh on April 4. His family lost contact with him four days ago.
Koh was abducted in broad daylight on Feb 13 by more than 10 apparently well trained men in three SUVs. CCTV footage showed them forcing his car to a stop on Jalan SS4B/10 and taking him away.
The same professionalism was apparent in Amri’s abduction, according to his wife, Norhayati Ariffin. News reports quoted her as saying witnesses saw five vehicles blocking the path of Amri’s car before he was taken away just 550m from their home in Kangar.