Malaysia: Task force needs more time to release report on pastor’s abduction by police

Raymond Koh (center) with his family
Raymond Koh (center) with his family | The Voice of the Martyrs

A special task force in Malaysia that was set up to act upon findings that Pastor Raymond Koh, who had been accused of proselytizing to Muslims, was abducted by police has asked for more time to prepare its report, the Southeast’s Asian country’s Ministry of Home Affairs said.

The task force headed by retired high court judge Abd Rahim Uda requires more time, Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said last week, according to International Christian Concern. “I hope the report can be ready in a month and submitted to the ministry,” Yassin was quoted as telling reporters.

The task force was formed last June after Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission, locally known as Suhakam, found that a Special Branch of the police was likely behind the disappearances of Koh and Amri Che, a Muslim social activist.

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Koh was abducted near his home in Petaling Jaya, West Malaysia, on Feb. 13, 2017. Koh’s car was surrounded by three black SUVs while he was driving in Petaling Jaya, and forced to a sudden stop. Since that day, Koh has not been seen or heard from and his car was never found.

His abduction was called a “well-organized, military-style operation.” Based on CCTV footage, the abduction was swiftly executed in just two minutes — in broad daylight and with someone even recording the entire process on video while another person is seen casually redirecting traffic.

At a public forum on “Waiting for Justice in 2020,” held earlier this month in Kuala Lumpur, Koh’s wife, Susanna, said her family members were “frozen in grief.” “Because we did not have a funeral, everyday is a funeral,” she said, according to Free Malaysia Today.

After the abduction, police initially began investigating if the pastor preached Christianity to Muslims, rather than focusing on catching his captors.

Before his abduction, Koh had been accused of preaching to Muslims and received threats, including bullets being sent to his home, according to Open Doors.

While the Human Rights Commission admitted that a special police intelligence team was responsible for the “forced disappearance,” no one has been arrested for the kidnapping.

Last October, Voice of the Martyrs, a nonprofit organization serving persecuted Christians since 1967, launched Release Raymond, calling on Christians around the world to demand the Malaysian government reveal the truth.

“We, pastor Raymond’s fellow Christians from around the world, call on your government to release any and all information related to the forced disappearance of pastor Raymond Koh, including any involvement of policemen from the Special Branch,” the petition read in part. “We demand pastor Raymond’s immediate release and safe return to his family. Finally, we call for justice. Those responsible for his disappearance must be held accountable for this inhumane crime.”

Malaysia is 56% Muslim and less than 10% Christian. Evangelizing Muslims is a crime under the southeast Asian nation’s strict Islamic legal code. The country, which is No. 40 on Open Door USA’s 2020 World Watch List where Christians face the most persecution, also prohibits conversion from Islam to other religions.

"Every ethnic Malay is expected to be Muslim," Open Doors notes. "Whoever deviates from this is viewed as going against not just the constitution, but also against society at large, their family and their neighborhood."

Last April, the country’s human rights commission, Suhakam, ruled that Koh and a Muslim social activist, Amri Che Mat, were the victims of state-sponsored “enforced disappearances.”

An enforced disappearance means the arrest, detention or abduction of a person by agents of the state, after which the person's fate or whereabouts are concealed, noted the Straits Times.

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