Suhakam inquiry on Pastor Koh’s abduction should go on, say lawyers

6th Mar 2018

KUALA LUMPUR: Lawyers for the family of Pastor Raymond Koh (pic) have argued that the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) inquiry into his disappearance should proceed to its conclusion.

They argued that the subject matter of the inquiry and the court case related to Koh’s abduction were different.

Suhakam ceased the inquiry into the abduction of Pastor Koh in January after a suspect was charged in court in relation to the case.

The statutory body cited Section 12(3) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act which states that it should “immediately cease” an inquiry if the allegation becomes the subject matter of any court proceeding.

He said that the criminal charge in the court meanwhile was to determine whether the accused committed the physical act of abduction.

“The difference in the subject matter can be readily discerned,” Gurdial said during his oral submissions to the Suhakam panel conducting the inquiry.

He added that there were practical, constitutional, and human rights dimensions why the inquiry should go on.

“This inquiry is entrusted with the critical role to establish the truth in its crucial mandate of protecting and promoting human rights in Malaysia,” said Gurdial.

Bar Council lawyer Andrew Khoo said that Suhakam should proceed with the inquiry as a means of protecting its turf.

The Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (EAIC) however said the inquiry should cease and that the Attorney-General’s Chambers was the right body to interpret laws, and in this particular case Section 12(3) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act.

Suhakam commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai, who is leading the inquiry panel, said that a decision on whether to continue the inquiry would be given later.

Suhakam had received a letter from Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Mohamad Fuzi Harun at 3pm on Jan 15, informing them that a suspect had been charged in court in relation to the case.

Part-time driver Lam Chang Nam, who claimed trial to extorting Koh’s son last year, was charged on Jan 15 with kidnapping or abduction.

In March 2017, Lam was charged with extorting RM30,000 from Jonathan Koh Szu Hao, 33, for the release of his father.

The inquiry is being held under Section 12(1) of the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia Act in connection with the disappearances of Koh, social activist Amri Che Mat, Pastor Joshua Hilmi and his wife, Ruth Sitepu.

The inquiry into the other disappearances would go on as scheduled.

Koh, 62, was abducted by a group of men along Jalan SS4B/10 in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13, 2017 while on his way to a friend’s house.

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

Koh’s silver-coloured car bearing the number plate ST5515D has not been found.

Read the article here: