The Malaysian Home Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin, announced that a special taskforce will investigate the abduction of Pastor Koh following a report carried out by SUHAKAM that concluded that his disappearance was executed by State agents.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, SUHAKAM (Suruhanjaya Hak Asasi Manusia Malaysia), announced last month that the panel was of the unanimous view that Pastor Koh was a victim of an enforced disappearance.
The chair of the panel, Dato’ Mah Weng Kai said: “The direct and circumstantial evidence in Pastor Raymond Koh’s case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by State agents, namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.” The panel also concluded that there had been state involvement in the disappearance of activist Amri Che Mat, who is a Shia Muslim, a branch of Islam banned in Malaysia.
Henrietta Blyth, CEO of Open Doors UK and Ireland, said: “The SUHAKAM report was a very significant and bold step forward in pursuit of those who are behind Pastor Koh’s kidnapping. We are delighted that it has led to the decision to set up a taskforce which will hopefully reveal what has really happened to Pastor Koh. His family have suffered for so long and deserve to know the true facts.”
Pastor Koh has been missing since 13 February 2017 when his car was surrounded by three vehicles while he was driving along. He was forced out of his car, into another vehicle and driven off. His car was also driven off and has not yet been found. Footage caught on CCTV cameras showed that at least 15 masked men wearing black took part in the operation.
In April, the chairman of the SUHAKAM panel indicated the following similarities in the cases of Pastor Koh and Amri Che Mat: both were targeted by religious authorities and the police on allegations that they were involved in matters against Islam in Malaysia; there was direct surveillance on their activities before they disappeared; both abductions were carried out in the same manner; the presence of a gold colour Toyota Vios in both cases.
The wife of the disappeared pastor, Susanna Koh, said: “We want to see the truth revealed. Until today, we just don’t know why they were taken. Malaysia is a moderate country, there should be the rule of law. There should be freedom of religion to practise one’s faith.”
Esther Koh, the pastor’s daughter, added: “It has never been the same without him. Having to deal with the police has been stressful for all of us. Not knowing what happened, it is ambiguous loss and causes mental stress.”
Earlier this month Susanna was able to meet with the Home Minister. And now, hearing the news about the taskforce to be set up, she said: “I am so happy. God is good. He answers more than we can imagine or think.”
Malaysia is number 42 on the 2019 World Watch List, Open Doors’ annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution.
There are 2.9 million Christians in Malaysia – they make up just over nine per cent of the total population of 32 million.
While the state is officially secular, the constitution defines ethnically Malay people as Muslims, and leaving Islam is illegal for them in almost every state. Christians from Muslim backgrounds face the worst persecution.
The government has a policy of favouring Malay and indigenous people in terms of housing, schooling and tax benefits. However, in practice this only applies as long as they are Muslims. If they become Christians, their privileges are quickly withdrawn. Christians from the Indian and Chinese minorities also miss out on these benefits.