Putrajaya mulls adding non-Malay replacement into enforced disappearance task force

Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during a press conference after Federal Territory Ministry and Royal Malaysian Police Aidilfitri gathering at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur July 7, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin during a press conference after Federal Territory Ministry and Royal Malaysian Police Aidilfitri gathering at the Police Training Centre in Kuala Lumpur July 7, 2019. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

KUALA LUMPUR, July 7 — The Home Ministry is considering the inclusion of a non-Malay into the government task force that will look into the enforced disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat.

Minister of Home Affairs Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin revealed this while adding that a replacement for former Bukit Aman Legal Affairs Chief Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor has been identified.

“At the ministry and at my level, we have identified a replacement and I think we can add one more person, someone in addition besides the replacement.

“And maybe one from the non-Malay (community) that I feel is more suitable to be part of the task force,” he said.

Muhyiddin had came under fire from non-governmental organisations, including Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances, Eliminating Death and Abuse in Custody, Proham and Patriot over the composition of the task force.

Other members of the task force include Zamri Yahya, who is Bukit Aman's Integrity and Standard Compliance Department director, Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission operations director Muhammad Bukhari Abdul Hamid, legal officer at the Public Prosecution Division of the Attorney-General’s Chambers Mohd Sophian Zakaria, and Mohd Russaini Idrus, secretary at the Police Force Commission for the Home Ministry.

The NGOs had questioned the impartiality of some of the members, most notably Mokhtar, who was in the same division implicated in the flawed investigation into Amri’s abduction and later in the team representing the police during the Malaysian Human Rights Commission’s (Suhakam) inquiry of both Ambri and Koh, which concluded that both activists were victims of enforced disappearances.

Mokhtar earlier this week pulled out of the task force, not wanting to affect the credibility of the task force due to potential conflict of interest as alleged by several civil society groups.

Koh, 64, was abducted by a group of masked men while driving in Kelana Jaya, Selangor on February 13, 2017, while Amri, 44, a co-founder of Perlis Hope Welfare Association, disappeared on November 24, 2016.

When asked to comment on Mokhtar’s withdrawal, Muhyiddin today said the decision was made my Mokhtar as a personal choice.

“It was announced after he had made his own decision, after taking into account the reactions he received from other parties.

“So he told the members of the task force and then told me that he wants to withdraw himself, and to me that’s a personal decision,” he said after attending the Federal Territory Ministry and Royal Malaysian Police Hari Raya Aidilfitri open house at the Police Training Centre here.

Muhyiddin added that the task force is set to meet sometime early this week to begin work, together with Mokhtar’s replacement and possibly the inclusion of the non-Malay members.

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