Six years ago, Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted. The public became alarmed.
Malaysia’s human rights commission Suhakam responded. It committed to investigating the abduction of Raymond – and of Amri Che Mat and of Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu.
Suhakam examined whether the police had given Amri and Raymond the protection of the law.
Four years ago, Suhakam published its investigation reports, complete with many recommendations to the government. Last year, Suhakam did the same for Joshua and Ruth.
But let’s focus on Raymond and Amri.
Suhakam said the Special Branch of the Malaysian police abducted them.
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Suhakam said the police were lackadaisical in their “investigation” of the disappearances.
Suhakam said the government was “acquiescent” – which means the government was unwilling to act against the perpetrators.
Suhakam exposed contradictions in police accounts of their investigations. Suhakam exposed glaring failures in collecting evidence.
Suhakam demanded that the government confront the reality of repeated police failures.
The Dr Mahathir Mohamad government pooh-poohed Suhakam’s report.
But the public objected and demanded action.
Finally, the cabinet instructed the then home minister, Mahiaddin Yasin, to act.
Mahiaddin formed a taskforce to investigate Suhakam’s findings in the case of Amri.
Although there are many problems with the taskforce, they did submit a report to Mahiaddin. Apparently, the report is ‘hot’, because he decided to seal it – on grounds of national security.
We can draw only one conclusion from that action: Malaysia is a police state. The government fears the police. The government dare not correct the faults of the police.
Six years on, the evidence is crystal clear.
People can be safely disappeared in Malaysia.
Now, in our nation, abductors know they won’t be arrested and prosecuted – because the police are lackadaisical, the government is acquiescent, and the public is silent.
But six years on, the public have not forgotten Raymond, Amri, Joshua and Ruth. We are clearer about what the government must do.
The Anwar government must make public the report of the taskforce.
The government must establish a boots-on-the ground investigation team to pursue the lines of investigation which the police failed to pursue.
The government must fund, resource and continue the investigation until the truth of what happened to Raymond, Amri, Joshua and Ruth is revealed and the perpetrators punished.
The government must establish well-trained missing persons units in all district police stations to make up for all the shortcomings pointed out by Suhakam – and as revealed in the inquest into the death of Anna Jenkins in Penang.
The government must ensure equal protection under the law for all persons in Malaysia.
We call on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim and Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution to recognise the importance and urgency of this matter and act responsibly. – Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged)
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