Pastor Koh’s wife questions task force membership with ex-Jakim link, bias concern

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Susanna Koh and Norhayati Mohd Arifin attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of their husbands, pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat, in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Susanna Koh and Norhayati Mohd Arifin attend the announcement of Suhakam’s public inquiry findings into the disappearances of their husbands, pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat, in Kuala Lumpur April 3, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, July 11— Pastor Raymond Koh’s wife today continued to question the composition of the task force probing his enforced disappearance, raising concerns over three of the members over issues such as past affiliation with federal religious body Jakim and perceived bias issues.

At the same time, Susanna Koh expressed the family’s happiness as the home minister had taken into account public views regarding the special task force’s membership, as well as the appointments yesterday of a Bar Council member and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) representative to the team as previously proposed by the family.

With the two new appointments, there are now seven members in the government’s special task force which was formed to probe the enforced disappearances of Koh and social activist Amri Che Mat.

But Susanna noted that issues remained with three of the original members in the task force that was announced on June 26, including its chairman.

She expressed the family’s surprise over Datuk Muhammad Bukhari Ab Hamid’s appointment to the task force, alleging that his previous role as the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim) legal advisor in 2015 meant his appointment was “in direct contradiction to Suhakam’s recommendation”.

She was referring to the recommendations by Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) which had carried out an inquiry into the duo’s disappearances.

She cited page 192 of Suhakam’s report, where recommendations included that a special task force be set up with “independent investigators” without conflict of interest to be appointed by the attorney general, including by ensuring that those appointed “have no current or past connections with current or past members of the religious authorities such as Jakim and Jais”.

Muhammad Bukhari was appointed to the task force in his current role as Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission’s operations division director.

Susanna also questioned the suitability of the appointment of Datuk Zamri Yahya, noting that he is the director of the police’s Integrity and Standard Compliance Department (JIPS).

She said Zamri’s unit was supposed to prevent the alleged abuse of power in both her husband and Amri’s case, claiming that nothing has been done to bring the culprits to justice when it is within his power to probe such allegations.

“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 PDRM who are trustworthy and still uphold the law and justice,” she said.

She then zoomed in on the task force’s chairman and former High Court judge Datuk Abd Rahim Uda, noting that his past court decision upholding the coroner’s findings of an “open verdict” in Teoh Beng Hock’s death was later overruled by a Court of Appeal panel that included current Suhakam commissioner Datuk Mah Weng Kwai.

Noting that many former judges in Malaysia known for their independence and integrity could easily have been appointed instead, she questioned why Abd Rahim was appointed when he is now tasked with looking into Suhakam’s findings made by a three-man panel comprising Mah.

“His appointment does not inspire confidence and dashes our hope for an independent, honest, unbiased, fair and transparent investigation by the task force,” she claimed of Abd Rahim’s role in the special task force.

She also pointed out that the special task force’s terms of reference have not been publicly disclosed or even been told to the directly affected family members of Koh and Amri.

“We do not understand why it is a secret,” she said.

In the same statement, she said: “I am just a housewife and all I want is to find out where my husband is.”

She also expressed hope that the police would investigate and tell her where her husband is.

Koh, 64, was abducted by a group of masked men while driving in Kelana Jaya, Selangor on February 13, 2017, while Amri, 44, a co-founder of Perlis Hope Welfare Association, disappeared on November 24, 2016.

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