Missing pastor's wife says police diverting probe's focus

Malaysian police are said to be looking into missing pastor Raymond Koh's alleged attempts to convert Muslim youth to Christianity.
Malaysian police are said to be looking into missing pastor Raymond Koh's alleged attempts to convert Muslim youth to Christianity.

The wife of missing pastor Raymond Koh has claimed that Malaysian police chief Khalid Abu Bakar is "diverting" the focus of investigations into her husband's abduction to Mr Koh's alleged attempts to convert Muslim youth.

Inspector-General of Police Khalid was quoted in an article in local Malay daily Berita Harian last month as saying the police were investigating the 62-year-old pastor and several unnamed individuals for allegedly trying to convert Muslims to Christianity in the northern state of Perlis.

At a press conference yesterday, 100 days after Mr Koh's disappearance, Ms Susanna Liew said she had lost confidence in the police after the April 6 report.

Recalling a meeting with Tan Sri Khalid on March 23, Ms Liew said she had personally asked him to ensure that the probe into her husband's abduction does not become an excuse to harass, investigate and prosecute him or his family, friends and colleagues.

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She said that, according to Mr Khalid, her husband was being probed under a section of the Penal Code for trying to disrupt Malaysia's harmony by using religion.

"The victim is being investigated? Why? How will this help find him or bring his abductors to justice?" Ms Liew asked while fighting back tears.

Mr Koh was abducted in broad daylight on Feb 13 as he was driving in Petaling Jaya. Three black sport utility vehicles blocked his car, and eight masked men in black alighted and removed Mr Koh and his vehicle from the scene, according to footage captured on closed-circuit TV cameras installed in front of a nearby house.

IRRELEVANT

What Raymond did or did not do is not relevant. Who committed this crime and who helped these criminals is what we all should be asking.

MS SUSANNA LIEW, wife of missing pastor Raymond Koh

His family has brought the matter to the United Nations working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances.

The case has alarmed Malaysians because the footage showed a professionally executed abduction, and there has been no word about Mr Koh's fate more than three months later.

Ms Liew, 61, said the allegations against Mr Koh should not be the main focus of the investigation.

"The question of whether or not he was proselytising Muslims keeps on coming up... all this 'Christianisation' smoke is to divert attention away from the abduction and the abductors, to blame the victim.

"This feeds into the story told by those trying to excuse this abduction - that Raymond deserved this because he tried to convert the Muslims," she said.

According to Ms Liew, any attempt to divert the scrutiny from the real criminals to her husband is an attack on the rule of law in Malaysia.

"What Raymond did or did not do is not relevant. Who committed this crime and who helped these criminals is what we all should be asking.

"What my children and I want most of all is the release of my husband safe and sound, and for his abductors and their accomplices to be brought to justice," she said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2017, with the headline 'Missing pastor's wife says police diverting probe's focus'. Print Edition | Subscribe