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Pastor Koh's family happy with changes but say concerns linger

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Susanna Koh, the wife of pastor Raymond Koh whom Suhakam said could have been kidnapped by the police, has welcomed the government's decision to make changes to a task force looking into his alleged "enforced disappearance" as well as that of Amri Che Mat.

This follows the departure of former cop Mokhtar Mohd Noor from the task force and the appointment of two new members, namely of MACC assistant commissioner Azian Umar and independent lawyer Roger Tan, following complaints of a possible conflict of interest and lack of diversity.

However, Susanna, in a statement, expressed continued concerns about the task force's other members including former judge Rahim Uda, who is heading it, Bukit Aman Integrity and Standard Compliance Department director Zamri Yahya and Enforcement Agencies Integrity Commission (EAIC) operations director Muhammad Bukhari Abdul Hamid.

The Home Ministry had said that even though Zamri is from the police force, which is being accused of the "enforced disappearances", his role is crucial to facilitate the task force's proceedings because his department is empowered by law to summon any police officer to give statements.

Other task force members include Attorney-General’s Chambers Public Prosecution Division legal officer Mohd Sophian Zakaria and Police Force Commission secretary Mohd Russaini Idrus.

Below is Susanna's full statement on the updated task force:

"We are happy to note that the Home Minister is taking into account the views of the public regarding the membership of the task force and we are pleased to note that a member of the Bar Council and MACC has just been appointed.

With regards to the other appointments, it would have been more appropriate if the Home Minister had followed Suhakam’s recommendations at paragraph 192 of their report:

'The Special Task Force should comprise of independent investigators to be appointed by the Attorney-General. In the event there is any conflict of interest, they ought not to be appointed. In selecting members of the Special Task Force, the appointing parties shall have regard to, inter alia, the following: ... Persons who have no current or past connections with current or past members of the religious authorities such as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) and Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais).'

We are surprised that the appointment of Muhammad Bukhari bin Abdul Hamid, who was the Jakim Legal Advisor in 2015, is in direct contradiction to Suhakam’s recommendation.

The appointment of Zamri Yahya is also a cause for concern as he is the Integrity and Standard Compliance Department director - the supposed “Internal Affairs Department” of the Royal Malaysian Police.

This was the unit that was supposed to prevent such abuse of power and the use of police personnel for criminal activity in Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri’s case.

Nothing has been done to bring these culprits to justice which was and is within his power to investigate.

It is our view his failure to do so speaks volumes as to his appropriateness and suitability to be in the task force.

The Home Minister could have appointed any other police officer who does not have any past or current connection with these cases in any way.

We are confident that there are many police officers in the Royal Malaysian police who are trustworthy and still uphold the law and justice.

In addition, on the appointment of Rahim Uda, it is also of concern as he was the judge that decided on Teoh Beng Hock’s case affirming the decision of the coroner that it was an "open verdict".

One of the commissioners sitting at Suhakam now, who conducted the inquiry, Mah Weng Kwai, sitting in the Court of Appeal at that time, reversed Rahim Uda’s decision stating that the "open verdict" in the inquest was incorrect – ruling out that the political aide had committed suicide but went on to say that it should have been treated as a "custodial death".

The Court of Appeal went further to say that every effort must be made to track down the perpetrator or perpetrators in a thorough police investigation.

No one should be spared in the investigations so that there will be no allegations of a cover-up.

The family expresses grave concern that of all the ex-judges in our country (for example KC Vohrah, Hishamudin Yunus, VC George, Abdul Aziz, Mohd Noor Ahmad and many others) who have a known and proven track record of independence and integrity who could have been easily appointed instead.

We do not understand why the home minister had to choose Rahim Uda to chair this task force when he has a history with the very same judge that reversed his decision on a case of such public interest that received wide publicity both nationally and internationally and may have impacted his career negatively.

He is now required to look into the findings of Suhakam which was made by that very same judge Mah Weng Kwai (together with two other commissioners).

His appointment does not inspire confidence and dashes our hope for an independent, honest, unbiased, fair and transparent investigation by the task force.

I am just a housewife and all I want is to find out where my husband is. I have taken my complaint to the government.

It was the government body, Suhakam, who held an inquiry and heard evidence on oath from the police and members of the public and come out with a clear finding at paragraph 36 of their report that:

'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.'

I hope that the current Inspector-General of Police Abdul Hamid Bador who is trying to clean up the police force, would also investigate this and tell me where my husband is.

In fact, Suhakam, at paragraph 189 and 191 of its report, stated:

“Every effort must be made to track down the abductors of Pastor Raymond Koh in a thorough police investigation. For starters, an experienced investigating officer should be appointed to reinvestigate the case ... a special task force be set up to reopen and re-investigate the case of Pastor Raymond Koh as an enforced disappearance case ...".

It is also our concern that the terms of reference of this special task force have not been disclosed to the public or even to us as the directly affected family members of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat.

We do not understand why it is a secret." 

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