Suhakam inquiry stalls as observers bicker over photo exhibit

15th Nov 2017

he exhibit in question was a screenshot of a news article from Singapore’s Berita Harian – which has no relation to the Malaysian newspaper of the same name – with the headline “Malaysia tangkap 16 suspek pengganas” (Malaysia arrests 16 suspected terrorists) and a photo of two balaclava-clad police personnel escorting a suspect.

The testimony of Selangor Criminal Investigation Department chief Fadzil Ahmat, who headed the taskforce to investigate pastor Raymond Koh’s disappearance on Feb 13, was to have been heard in today’s session.


Instead, the hearing was adjourned for over two hours, and only resumed when an argument over the exhibit tendered by Koh’s family’s lawyers finally settled. Fadzil was not called to take the witness stand at all.

The exhibit was presented to the witness Supari Mohammad, the investigating officer probing Koh’s disappearance, over whether the uniforms worn by the police personnel were Malaysian police standard issue, despite having no visible insignia.

However, police observer Nuzulan Mohd Din objected to the exhibit, claiming that it had been doctored with a “cut-and-paste,” and that the original article showed a different picture.

Nuzulan urged the panel the expunge the exhibit along with any related testimony, and threatened to press charges under Section 192 of the Penal Code against Koh family’s lawyers for fabricating evidence.

Lawyer Jerald Gomez, representing Koh’s family, then displayed on his laptop that both pictures – the one shown by Nuzulan and the exhibit – were part of the original Berita Harian article.

Gomez showed the that both photos were presented on the portal’s website as an interactive slideshow, that required some user interaction (such as a click or a tap) for the photo in the exhibit to be displayed.

After hearing the explanation, Nuzulan apologised, and agreed to retract his objection over the photo being doctored.

Nevertheless, he maintained that the Koh family lawyers should have presented both photos to avoid “mengelirukan” the inquiry.


Construing “mengelirukan” as “deliberately mislead,” lawyers Steven Thiru (photo) and Gurdial Singh Nijar took turns to argue that they have discretion on how to present their case, and that it was up to other observers to contradict it.

They also urged that the commission make a ruling on whether presenting the evidence in such a manner was indeed misleading, because this would affect how they would present future evidence.

The Suhakam panel chairperson Mah Weng Kwai then adjourned the hearing at 4.17pm to continue the argument in chambers.

When the hearing reconvened, Mah said Nuzulan had used the word “mengelirukan” to mean “may be confusing,” rather than “misleading.”

He said he would also reserve judgement until the end of the hearing on whether the way the photos were shown was misleading.

“Unfortunately, time has caught up with us. We will resume tomorrow at 9am with ASP Supari,” Mah said after announcing what transpired in chambers, and before adjourning the hearing.

The Suhakam inquiry is seeking to establish whether the disappearances of Koh, activist Amri Che Mat, pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Hilmy are tantamount to enforced disappearances, as defined under International Convention for Protection of all Persons from Enforced Disappearances (ICPPED).

The inquiry panel also consists of commissioners Aishah Bidin and Nik Salida Suhaila Nik Saleh.

Link to article at: