COMMENT | Home Affairs Minister Muhyiddin Yassin is one of the most senior ministers in the Cabinet. His chief responsibility is the maintenance of our country’s internal security through the country's large police force, which is under his jurisdiction.
Yet, as we glance at today’s news, we are shown the stark contradiction in the performance of the police and the home minister.
On the one hand, they claim confidence in tackling the threat of international terrorism while on the other, they continue to draw a blank when it comes to tracing pastor Raymond Koh, activist Amri Che Mat (photo, above) and Indira Gandhi’s daughter.
The Malaysian police force’s apparent “selective efficiency” gives us cause for serious concern.
Koh, 63, was abducted from his car by a group of more than 10 men in a convoy of vehicles on Feb 13, 2017. CCTV footage showed at least three black SUVs were involved in the abduction.
Another missing Malaysian, Amri, 44, who co-founded charity organisation Perlis Hope, has been missing since Nov 24, 2016.
His wife Norhayati Ariffin said witnesses saw five vehicles blocking Amri’s car before he was whisked away just 550m from their home in Bukit Chabang, Perlis.
Then there is also the abduction of Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, who were last seen on Nov 30, 2016.
The police also haven’t got a clue as to the whereabouts of Indira Gandhi’s ex-husband and daughter. The kindergarten teacher from Ipoh, Perak, had challenged the unilateral conversion to Islam of her three children by their converted father all the way to the Federal Court in Putrajaya.
She won her legal challenge but was frustrated by the apathy displayed by the authorities in bringing back her youngest child as ordered by the court nearly 10 years ago.
In April, the Suhakam inquiry concluded that Koh and Amri were victims of enforced disappearance, that they were carried out by agents of the state, namely the Malaysian Special Branch.
The government’s response has been to set up a six-man task force (photo, above), including three police officers. One of the task force members is Mokhtar Mohd Noor, who was at the Suhakam hearing and submitted on behalf of the police.
Koh’s wife Susanna Liew criticised the composition of the task force set up to probe the disappearance of her husband and Amri. She said in a statement that the government had ignored the family’s suggestion to include a member of the Bar Council, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and a representative of an NGO.
Liew said: “It (the task force) does not include any woman or any other member of a different race or religion to reflect the composition of this country and the muhibbah (goodwill) spirit which the Pakatan Harapan government promised if they come to power.”
Only then, she said, would the task force have “reflected a more balanced, independent, transparent and representative task force which would be recognised by the public as independent, trustworthy and fair”.
The Malaysian police have been trained and tested since the days of the Emergency in 1948. They have fought insurgents in the jungle as well as in the urban areas. The methods used by the Malaysian police have often been found to be excessive, but they have proven that they can nip any altercation swiftly in the bud when they want to.
The Malaysian Special Branch prides itself as one of the best in this part of the world. But in cases such as the enforced disappearances of Koh and Amri, as well as Indira Gandhi’s daughter, their lack of credibility and professionalism is shocking.
The home minister should deal with these cases with the professionalism we expect of the police. He can start by re-appointing a more credible task force and end this issue that has dragged on for far too long, causing untold suffering to the families involved and massive distrust in their professionalism.
KUA KIA SOONG is the adviser of human rights NGO Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram).
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.