… And justice for all

24th Jun 2018

NEW government, new expectations and new hope.

First to roll out was the reopening of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder case. Then, the Cabinet mooted a fresh probe into Teoh Beng Hock’s sinister death.

Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun said the Altantuya case has earned re-examination based on the old police report and the one lodged in Dang Wangi by her father Shaaribuu Setev recently. Teoh’s case awaits Attorney-General Tommy Thomas’ consultation for further action.

(Altantuya was murdered and her body blown up with explosives at a secondary jungle between 10pm on Oct 19, 2006, and 1am on Oct 20, 2006. Teoh was found dead on July 16, 2009, on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after having his statement recorded on the 14th floor of Selangor’s MACC office.)

Now that these two high-profile cases have received the nod for reinvestigation, it’s timely to relook the mysterious disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat.

That is what their wives are hoping for in their quest for answers on the disappearance of their husbands more than a year ago.

In desperation, they have turned to reinstalled Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad for help, pouring their hearts out in a joint open letter recently.

“Please help us find out what happened to our husbands, who took them and where they are now.

“We want them back with us. We beg for justice. We plead for the truth,” said Susanna Liew and Norhayati Mohd Ariffin.

It’s ridiculous to expect us to accept that the police can’t trace the individuals behind Koh’s expertly executed abduction on Feb 13 last year. Shockingly, the incident was even captured on video in broad daylight.

The CCTV footage, believed to be of the incident, showed at least 15 men and three black SUVs involved in the kidnapping.

In Amri’s case, a witness testified at the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) that he saw Amri being abducted by men in four vehicles which looked like pickup trucks, in Kangar, Perlis, on Nov 24, 2016.

Dr Mahathir, understandably, has his hands full trying to throw the book at the culprits who have looted our country to the tune of figures that boggle the minds of average Malaysians.

But he remains committed to pursuing justice and uncovering the truth.

Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng is also digging deep into hidden files which could unearth more dirty details. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission is a hive of activity with near daily reports lodged on misappropriation of funds, a common theme these days.

With these more exciting and fresh financial revelations creeping out of the woodwork, there is fear that the cases involving Koh and Amri may find themselves languishing on the backburner of public interest, which will be a travesty should it happen.

But we shouldn’t forget that given the resources available to the police, the families of Koh and Amri are surely entitled to closure. As human beings, we can’t expect them to simply accept the flimsy explanation that the police remain clueless.

After a year, it’s still unclear if Koh and Amri are alive or have met the worst fate imaginable, but as their spouses, Liew and Norhayati must cling on to hope.

I salute the courageous and committed lawyers and campaigners who have continued the search for Koh and Amri, even as they face a wall of silence. It’s obvious that powerful forces were at work in the abduction of both, particularly Koh.

Few can carry out such a detailed and precise covert operation without any form of security training.

It has become more complicated, mysterious even, that names of senior policemen surfaced in the open letter to the Prime Minister.

These are very serious and disturbing allegations, but there’s barely been a peep of a response to the open letter. Neither have there been rebuttals.

Amri’s case received greater interest recently when Norhayati claimed that a policeman told her that Special Branch officers from Bukit Aman were responsible for the kidnapping of her husband, as well as that of Koh.

Apart from the two, the disappearances of Pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Sitepu, are being investigated by Suhakam, too. The couple was reported missing in March 2017, although the motive behind their disappearance remains unknown.

Regardless of what Koh and Amri were up to – Koh has been accused of converting Muslims to Christians, and Amri was said to be a practising Syiah – this is Malaysia, it isn’t reasonable that people get abducted in broad daylight.

This isn’t a third-world nation where people in “hoods” bundle politicians or journalists into vans and take them to secret locations for execution. What happened to Koh and Amri sends a chill down the spine.

Their families have begged the Prime Minister to immediately and independently investigate these serious allegations with urgency, transparency and impartiality, especially as those allegedly implicated include high-ranking and powerful police personnel.

They also pleaded to the Attorney General’s Chambers to provide a safe space for whistle-blowers to step forward with information on their husbands’ abductions, like who took them, where they are now and who are involved.

Let’s hope the Prime Minister and newly-appointed Home Minister, Tan Sri Muyhiddin Yassin, call for a renewed approach in the investigations, one with greater urgency.

Placed in such positions of power, they should be able to intervene and see to it that justice is served.

Article written by Dato’ Wong Chun Wai

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