Pastor Raymond Koh from Malaysia was abducted by State police on 13 February 2017. His was one of four enforced disappearances around that same time – Christian couple Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu, and Shia Muslim Amri Che Mat were also taken. Nothing has been heard from them since. This timeline shows how Pastor Raymond’s wife, Susanna, has been fighting tirelessly to find him since then.
13 February 2017 – Pastor Raymond Koh is abducted in a coordinated attack in broad daylight. It takes the police ten days to set up a task force to investigate the abduction.
September 2017 – A candlelit vigil is held over 200 days after Raymond Koh’s abduction to pray for him, as well as missing Christians Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu, and Shia Muslim activist Amri Che Mat. Susannah Koh, Raymond’s wife, says, “Like the rest of Malaysia, all I know is what I read in the media.”
October 2017 – The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) starts a public inquiry into the disappearance of Raymond Koh, Joshua Hilmy, Ruth Sitepu, and Amri Che Mat.
January 2018 – SUHAKAM reports that they have been told by the police to stop the public inquiry into the disappearance of Raymond Koh, because the police have apprehended a suspect and are charging him in court for the kidnapping.
Susannah Koh says, “Our hope when we came to SUHAKAM was to find some answers to the many questions we had about his abduction. We are very disappointed that our hope to find answers and exercise our human rights for truth and justice is being denied. We hope that there will be justice, and although we still have hope in the system, I’m afraid that today this hope has been crushed.”
February 2018 – A prayer event is held a year after Pastor Raymond Koh’s disappearance. Susannah says, “Our lives have been different since he has been gone. We miss him so much.” Despite her grief, she also says, “I am grateful to Jesus, who is our Good Shepherd. I have this picture of Psalm 23 in my mind, when the psalmist says he has no lack. The Lord has provided for us and continues to be with us, as He is with Raymond. Though I do not know why this has happened, I believe that God will work it out for the good of those who love Him.”
May 2018 – SUHAKAM resumes the inquiry of Pastor Raymond’s disappearance. A new government is elected, and a whistle-blower comes forward implicating the Bukit Aman, a special branch of the police force, in the abduction of Raymond Koh. The whistle-blower claims that the abduction was carried out with the full knowledge and approval of the then Inspector General of Police, Khalid Abu Bakar. Susannah says, “I hope now with the new government that the investigation documents will not be put under the Official Secrets Act any more, and I hope Raymond, Amri Che Mat, Joshua and Ruth Sitepu will be released soon.”
June 2018 – A solidarity vigil is organised by CAGED (Citizens Against Enforced Disappearance) in Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur. About 100 people attend to show support to the families of missing Pastor Raymond Koh, Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy, and Ruth Sitepu.
November 2018 – Pastor Raymond is still missing on his 64th birthday. Susanna says, “Wherever he is, God is with him. He is our hero because he was willing to obey God's command even at the risk of his life.” Raymond Koh’s mother passes away. SUHAKAM closes its case on Amri Che Mat.
December 2018 – Inquiry into Raymond Koh’s disappearance is concluded. Susannah says, “We are looking forward and we have great expectation that Raymond and the rest will be released and that the culprits will be brought to justice.”
April 2019 – The findings and decisions of the inquiry are released. SUHAKAM’s report says that Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat are victims of enforced disappearance by the State, namely the Special Branch of the Malaysian Police Department.
Susanna says, “We are glad that the decision has been made that they have been victims of enforced disappearances. We are thankful for all that has been done. But we would like to have our husbands return safe and sound. We want to see the truth revealed.”
May 2019 – Malaysian Home Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, announces that the government will set up a special taskforce soon to investigate enforce disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat, after SUHAKAM made public its findings.
June 2019 – The families of Raymond and Amri express disappointment with the appointment of the six-member team of the special taskforce. Susanna says, “It is with regret that three out of six task force members are (former and serving) police officers, and to make matters much worse, Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor, who was at the SUHAKAM hearing, submitting on behalf of the police, was appointed as a member. He was the former head of Bukit Aman’s (head office of PDRM) Legal Division. This is the same division that was implicated in the flawed investigation into Amri’s abduction, and later, in the team representing PDRM during the SUHAKAM inquiry. As such, Mokhtar is clearly an interested party and so represents a conflict of interest.”
July 2019 – The book, Where is Pastor Raymond Koh? written by Lee Hwa Beng and Stephen Ng is published. Lee Hwa Beng says, “It is to remember Pastor Raymond Koh. We sincerely hope he will reappear one day, but if he doesn’t, the world must not forget him. I have personally known him for not less than 25 years and his disappearance has really affected me a lot.”
Susanna also shares that life for the family has been like a roller coaster, one day up and one day down. She says that her family wants closure, for it has been too long.
August 2019 – SUHAKAM urges the Malaysian government to ratify the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPPED). It points out that there is no official data on cases of enforced disappearances in Malaysia as past cases are often just treated as that of missing persons, abductions or kidnapping.
October 2019 – Susanna reports that 20 members of the Task Force (to investigate on enforced disappearance) had paid a courtesy call to her home. She and her son, Jonathan, were also called in for questioning by the police. “Their line of questioning was investigating us, and not finding Pastor Raymond. It felt more like harassment than helping us find him,” says Susanna.
November 2019 – The family organises 1,000 days remembrance of Raymond Koh. Susanna shares that she and her children continue to feel despair and frustration over the slow pace at which the case is being investigated, as it approaches five months since the special task force was formed.
February 2020 – Susanna announces that she has filed a lawsuit against police officials past and present, as well as the government, over Raymond’s alleged abduction by the state. Her lawyer, Datuk Jerald Gomez, explains that they had no choice but to file the lawsuit after failing to obtain a satisfactory resolution, as the three-year limitation period to sue was about to expire along with the third anniversary of Raymond’s disappearance.
March 2020 – Susanna receives the award for the US International Women of Courage 2020. According to a statement from the embassy, she is being honoured for her tireless pursuit of justice and for pushing those responsible for her husband’s abduction to be punished.
November 2020 – Case management is ongoing and Susanna requests prayers for her lawyers who are preparing documents and evidence for a pre-trial.
December 2020 – Susanna has interviews with the US Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), who have adopted Raymond Koh as their prisoner of conscience, which means more attention and international advocacy for his case.
February 2021 – It is four years since Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted.
Susanna and her family have been touched by your prayers over the last four years. This year, you can also encourage them by writing to them!
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