Malaysia Dateline

The mysterious disappearance of Pastor Koh on February 13 at Jalan SS4B/10 Petaling Jaya has raised a lot of concerns from people of all walks of life.

Even Mother Teresa will not be safe in Malaysia

Comment: Some described Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, 62, as a man with great humility. Others say that he is willing to stoop so low that he is willing to wash your legs.

An employee of Harapan Komuniti, for example, told me that since joining the non-government organisation three months ago, Koh is the best boss that she has ever had.

Together with family and friends, she came to the candlelight vigil at Shah Alam District Police Station to show solidarity with Koh’s wife, Susanna Liew and two children.

Another well-wisher said Koh lives a very simple life but he always has a heart for the marginalised people in Petaling Jaya. “He does not care whether you are Indian, Chinese or Malays,” she said.

“Pastor Koh would help anyone in need who comes to him.”
Liew described Koh as a good man, urging his abductors to release him unconditionally. In 2004, she said Koh founded Harapan Komuniti after he saw single mothers, drug addicts and those with HIV/ AIDS needed help. A community centre in Taman Sri Manja was also set up to teach children English, giving them tuition and a place to do their homework.

Even Parti Amanah Negara strategy director Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, who was at the vigil, described Pastor Koh as someone doing an ‘honourable job’ to help the marginalised community.

A controversy sparked off after a fundraising event organised by Harapan Komuniti, where Koh was accused of proselytisation. At the centre of it was former Pas commissioner, Dr Hassan Ali. Allegations remained allegations, as there was no evidence to prosecute Koh.

However, despite all the wild allegations, Koh continued to provide the assistance that the marginalised community in Petaling Jaya need. Put it simply: “I think we have a good model of our faith in action, a version of Mother Teresa if you may put it.”

According to Wikipedia, the Missionaries of Charity was founded by Mother Teresa in 1950 to “manage homes for people dying of HIV/AIDS, leprosy and tuberculosis, soup kitchens, dispensaries and mobile clinics, children’s- and family-counselling programmes, orphanages and school.”

Mother Teresa’s mission was to touch the lives of those who were social rejects or marginalised in the city of Calcutta. If Mother Teresa had operated her charity in Malaysia, I wonder if she would also suffer the same fate as Pastor Koh?

Treated As Scums

Pastor Koh’s disappearance has also brought my attention to the plight of the social rejects in our country. One cannot help it but ask questions of what the government is doing to help these marginalised people in our community.

And when someone like Koh is offering his own hands to help, and allegations are hurled against him, has the government done anything to quell any unhealthy accusations? If the society rejects Koh’s act of kindness, what is the country doing about these people?

Not to mention people with HIV/ AIDS, I see that the LGBT community is treated like scums in this country. The society which they should be turning to have totally rejected them. They have no hope in life.

It is people like Koh whom they can turn to for some comfort. Some eventually find solace in the homes that Koh’s organisation runs – and probably on the path to healing.

When these people turn up at his doorstep, it is unlikely that Koh would even cast the first and certainly not the last stone at them. They would be welcomed with an embrace regardless of race, religion or cultural background.

It goes without saying that the street people in this country have also been treated as social rejects. The infamous Tengku Adnan Mansor, for example, has courted controversy when he attempted to close down the soup kitchens in the federal capital.

The Federal Territories Minister is a typical example of Umno leaders who have lost touch with the suffering of the people who are without a job, shelter and good food.

I am told that whenever there is a major event in the city, the street people are being transported like cattle to the outskirts where they are left to fend for themselves.

They are no longer treated with dignity as fellow human beings. And whenever there is a counter-rally against Bersih, these are the people rounded up, given the red t-shirts and told to wear them in exchange for some food. Thankfully, a video clip has gone viral.

If I go on to mention how money meant for orphanages are spent on golf games overseas, it would appear that I am anti-government. Even the US Department of Justice has already labelled us as a nation of kleptocrats.

Safety of Civilians Top Priority

The disappearance of Pastor Koh is, therefore, not a very good sign. He joins a list of people who also went missing but later found brutally murdered. Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu who was at the centre of the Scorpene scandal and Malaysian DPP, Kelvin Morais had received worldwide publicity.

It also did not help that the abduction happened on the same day when the estranged half-brother of North Korean president, Kim Jong-Un was assassinated. While the case was solved professionally by the police, Koh should be given a top priority as it involves a Malaysian citizen.

Imagine the cheers when the Royal Malaysian Police is able to capture the abductors and release Pastor Raymond Koh alive and well! The mood at candlelight vigil clearly shows that Malaysians of all races and religious backgrounds are now standing in solidarity with the Koh family, urging rather than demanding (as reporting) for an answer from the police.

Adding to Dr Dzulkefly’s comment, he said he came to the vigil last night as a fellow citizen to join family and friends to urge Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and Putrajaya to handle this abduction case with great urgency people cannot accept the current state of security in the county.

“The abduction itself is worrisome. Putrajaya has to take responsibility to crack down the abductors and calm down the situation,” he said.

Raymond Koh Keng Joo Cooperation Between Police and Public

The lack of leads from the police is certainly not helpful for Koh’s family and their well-wishers after 21 days since Koh’s disappearance.

The public felt restless when they cannot help with the case. Unless the police ask for help by releasing photofits, presumably based on eyewitnesses’ account, no one can provide more leads to the police.

Public interest in this case is a great plus point to the police, because all we want as concerned citizens is to see to Koh’s safe return to his family.

If the abduction was carried out by pro-IS elements, as someone suggested, this is then a well-organised crime of the highest order. It would be justified to ask the police whether they are aware of the existence of such a group of militants. If yes, why has nothing been done to dismantle the group?

I wish to end by joining state assemblyman of Damansara Utama, Yeoh Bee Yin who said the turnout last night was totally unexpected despite it being a spontaneous gathering. “It shows the solidarity of all Malaysians,” she said. “I hope that the police will have the same fervency to investigate.”

Selangor Speaker, Hannah Yeo also expressed her solidarity with Koh’s family. “Today is not about us, but about Pastor Raymond. Just to be here with the family is good enough,” she said, citing the presence of even key leaders from Amanah such as Mat Sabu, Mujahid Yusof Rawa and Dr Dzulkefly.

The candlelight vigil would have yielded a better outcome in terms of police-public cooperation if the gathering had been allowed to be carried out within the compound of the district police station, with members of the police force and the public standing in solidarity.

As Yeo also pointed out: “We are so used to the demonstrations by (Sungai Besar Umno division leader) Jamal (Mohd Yunos) on this stretch of the road. There should be space for people who want to express their solidarity with Pastor Raymond’s family members.”

The mysterious disappearance of Pastor Koh on February 13 at Jalan SS4B/10 Petaling Jaya has raised a lot of concerns from people of all walks of life.

*STEPHEN NG is an ordinary citizen with an avid interest in following political developments in the country since 2008.