KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — An aide to the families of Pastor Raymond Koh and activist Amri Che Mat has claimed “police culture” — not the government — is responsible for the unsolved disappearances of the two men.
Sheryll Stothard, who is assisting the legal team representing the families, alleged at the Regional Conference on Victims of Enforced Disappearances today that the police could have acted on their own after the two men were allegedly abducted by them.
“It looks like there seems to be a police culture where they seem to take it upon themselves to do a lot of things and it’s difficult to change that, be it the new or old government,” she said.
“I’m not saying the government of the day is not accountable... of course, they are, but the dangerous developed police culture must be addressed.
“I don't think the government of the day is saying, ‘Go and abduct anyone who is deemed threatening,’” Stothard added.
Stothard was rebutting Citizen Action Group on Enforced Disappearance (CAGED) member, Rama Ramanathan, who had alleged that the police were acting on behalf of the government.
Rama, who is also a steering committee member electoral watchdog of Bersih 2.0, said the police are accountable to the Home Ministry.
Stothard also told Malay Mail on the sidelines of the conference that she had met with an aide of Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, and learnt that the ministry knows about said “police culture” involving the disappearances of individuals.
“They told me the challenge is too difficult to determine how far is the corruption and wrongdoing culture in the police force,” she said.
Stothard also said Malaysians are partially to be blame as they encouraged the culture of people being shot or killed without trial.
“When we hear a criminal is shot, we say, ‘Let them die, since they are criminals.’ Malaysians too have become complacent and made this culture acceptable,” she said.
Koh, 62, was abducted on February 13, 2017 in broad daylight by about 15 masked men in seven vehicles.
Koh’s abduction was a matter of concern to Christians in Malaysia because of his previous brushes with state officials.
The Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais), accompanied by police, reportedly raided an event organised by a welfare organisation founded by Koh, where Muslims were present.
On November 24, 2016, Amri — a Muslim forex trader from Perlis who had founded a social welfare organisation named Perlis Hope — was abducted near his home.
Amri too had run-ins with Jais in 2015.
Aside from Koh and Amri, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth Sitepu also disappeared in November last year.
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