'Missing' Malaysian activist seen in Thailand

Mr Peter Chong was allegedly abducted, but has been seen crossing from Malaysia into Thailand by bus.
Mr Peter Chong was allegedly abducted, but has been seen crossing from Malaysia into Thailand by bus.

KUALA LUMPUR • Mr Peter Chong, a former city councillor and social activist who was reported missing since last Friday, has been spotted crossing the border by bus into Thailand, Malaysia's Inspector-General of Police said yesterday.

"We obtained a picture of him crossing the border on a bus," Tan Sri Khalid told reporters.

Speculation had swirled that Mr Chong, 54, had been abducted, like the missing pastor Raymond Koh, who was taken by a group of men from his car in February. Police are investigating if Mr Koh's abduction is linked to allegations he tried to convert some young people to Christianity in Perlis a month earlier.

Mr Khalid said Mr Chong was seen crossing from Malaysia into Thailand at the Bukit Kayu Hitam checkpoint in Kedah state at about 6.30am last Friday.

"He is in Thailand. We are not sure of his intentions going there, but I want to warn those trying to convince people into thinking he was kidnapped," he said, adding that the police were working with their Thai counterparts to track down Mr Chong. There was no record of his returning from Thailand. Mr Khalid also advised Mr Chong to contact his family to inform them of his well-being.

Mr Chong had been attending prayer meetings and candlelight vigils held for Mr Koh, 62.

He had posted on Facebook on March 31 about an encounter with a stranger on a motorcycle who said he recognised him from the vigils and warned him to "be careful". He quoted the stranger as also saying in Malay: "Nowadays, there are many cases of people going missing. They know where people live."

"I asked... who are they? He just said, pandai-pandai la(just be smart), take care boss, and rode away. Now, is this strange?" he wrote.

Mr Chong added that the stranger's words were advisory and not threatening.

Malaysian media have reported other cases of social activists missing in the country, which they say bear similar traits to Mr Koh's case.

CCTV footage supposedly of Mr Koh's abduction in Kelana Jaya, Selangor, shows his car being forced to a stop by three SUVs, and at least five masked men whisking him away in a professionally executed operation.

Mr Amri Che Mat, 44, co-founder of charity organisation Perlis Hope Welfare Organisation, has been missing since November, after allegedly being taken from his car in Malaysia's northernmost state.

His wife said that at about 11.30pm on Nov 24, witnesses saw five vehicles boxing in Mr Amri's car before he was taken away. She lodged a police report the next day but police have yet to find any clues regarding her husband's disappearance.

Two others who have been reported missing are Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, from Petaling Jaya, Selangor.

THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, BERNAMA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2017, with the headline ''Missing' activist seen in Thailand'. Print Edition | Subscribe