Special Branch behind pastor Raymond Koh’s disappearance, says Suhakam

Susanna Liew and Norhayati Mohd Arifin attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Susanna Liew and Norhayati Mohd Arifin attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — After an extensive public inquiry, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) announced today that the Special Branch, the special police intelligence team from Bukit Aman, was involved in the abduction of pastor Raymond Koh, similar to that of activist Amri Che Mat.

Commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai said its decision was based on the findings of its panel that had been looking into Koh’s abduction, which took place on February 13, 2017.

“The direct and circumstantial evidence in Pastor Raymond Koh’s case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by State agents namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

“The Panel further finds that there is no evidence to support the contention, as suggested by Counsel on behalf of Pastor Raymond Koh’s family and Counsel for the Bar Council, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted by persons or groups of persons acting with the authorisation, support or acquiescence of the State,” Mah said.

Mah said the conclusion was reached based on testimony from Amri’s wife, Norhayati Mohd Ariffin, who said she was told by Special Branch officer Mohd Shamzaini Mohd Daud that the enforced disappearances of both Koh and Amri were carried out by Bukit Aman’s Special Branch.

Suhakam commissioner, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, announces the findings of Suhakam’s public inquiry into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Suhakam commissioner, Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, announces the findings of Suhakam’s public inquiry into the disappearances of pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

He said the conclusion also drew from the police’s refusal to acknowledge this and reclassify Koh’s case from abduction to enforced disappearance.

Based on the findings, the inquiry panel made several recommendations including the formation of a special task force to re-investigate Koh’s disappearance, the separation of powers between the police and religious authorities, and reforming the police’s standard operating procedures (SOP).

“Every effort must be made to track down the abductors of pastor Raymond Koh in a thorough police investigation,” said Mah, adding that an experienced investigating officer should be appointed for the case.

He added that the families must be given closure.

Inquiries into the disappearances of Koh, Amri, and two others missing — pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Hilmi — were held under the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act.

The inquiry on Koh’s case took place over 21 days and heard 16 witnesses, and ended last December 8.

Koh, whose real name is Keng Joo Koh, 64, was last seen by his wife Susanna Liew Sow Yoke in February 2017 in Petaling Jaya less than three months after Amri’s abduction.

Joshua and Ruth have also been missing since 2016.