Composition, authority of ‘taskforce’ must be completely revamped

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Family members of Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat

Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) welcomes the announcement by the Ministry of Home Affairs that Mokhtar Mohd Noor has voluntarily withdrawn from the “taskforce” to “probe” the Suhakam inquiry reports into the disappearances of Amri Che Mat and Raymond Koh.

Caged notes that the ministry’s announcement refutes supposed allegations that Mokhtar was a witness at the Suhakam inquiry and/or an investigating officer (“pegawai yang menyiasat”) in the subject cases. Caged never made such allegations and is not aware of anyone else having made such allegations.

Caged previously criticised Mokhtar’s appointment on the grounds that he was head of the police legal department which represented the police during the Suhakam inquiry and that he made the final submissions on behalf of the police. Those criticisms are based on facts and we are glad the ministerial announcement does not question those facts.

Caged is pleased that the ministerial announcement attributes the withdrawal of Mokhtar to protests by NGOs. However, the record should shows that many individuals also spoke out in their personal capacities.

Caged reminds the ministry that Mokhtar’s withdrawal only satisfies one of the many demands of the NGOs. The demands include defining the terms of reference of the taskforce (so that it is) not “probing” the Suhakam report, but satisfying at least the following expectations:

  • Conduct an honest, thorough, well-resourced investigation (unlike the slipshod and erratic police investigations to date in both cases) using police authority – with independent, unbiased, credible investigators.
  • Investigate police personnel who directed or failed to challenge police work in these serious crimes.
  • Investigate police personnel who, based on evidence, Suhakam believes should be investigated on charges of falsifying evidence, planting evidence, withholding evidence and making false reports. This requires a review of the Suhakam inquiry’s notes of proceedings.
  • Drop the pretence that the Raymond Koh investigation must be put on ice because “someone has been charged”. This is because no one who has read the verbatim notes of proceedings believes the accused person can be credibly charged with kidnap or abduction.
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Based on the terms of reference, the composition and authority of the taskforce must be completely revamped.

Caged recommends the approach taken in the Anwar Ibrahim black-eye case two decades ago when the investigation of the police was assigned to the then Anti-Corruption Agency – now the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. A similar approach was adopted in the 1MDB case and resulted in the ongoing trial of ex-PM Najib Razak.

Caged again calls on other members of the “taskforce” to resign. They should recognise, as Mokhtar has, that in the public eye they are severely tainted and should follow Mokhtar’s lead.

Caged is glad to put on record that Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has indeed responded to some public feedback. However, we must emphasise that we consider his announcement as no more than a first step towards a taskforce which not only “sounds like” but is also “identical with” the recommendations of Suhakam and previous good practices.

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