Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Where Is Pastor Raymond Koh? (2019) by Stephen Ng & Lee Hwa Beng, BOOK REVIEW

Where Is Pastor Raymond Koh? (2019) by Stephen Ng & Lee Hwa Beng

This is a very important book and I’m glad that POPULAR Book Co. (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd sold it on their bookstores nationwide (MPH too, I think). “This book,” write the co-author, Stephen Ng, on the preface, “attempts to piece together the events that took place during and after the abduction of Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo, so that there is a complete record of this blight that should trouble every right-thinking member of our society.” This is a page-turner book and the more I read it, the angrier I become and the sadder I felt about what’s going on in Malaysia, especially, in the political and justice systems. To use the title of Blaise Pascal’s book, when I read this 182-page book, my “mind [is] on fire.”

In about 10.30am, 13th February 2017, Pastor Raymond Koh, the founder of Harapan Komuniti, a welfare NGO, was abducted from his car on Jalan SS4B/10, Petaling Jaya. The abduction of Pastor Koh was conducted in a cruel and “in an organized manner” (by professionals). More than 2 years later, there is no solid information concerning the safety or whereabouts of him has been given to the family and friends. I remember during the candlelight vigil in Padang Merdeka, Kuching (refer to picture between page 142-143), it was raining, I don’t know exactly how to pray for the pastor because so little information was given about the issue. Online news reported that the police is “still investigating.” Thanks to the authors and other brave and courageous friends of the Koh family for putting together a book like this - “the truth has to be told.” Also, the authors mention other cases of abduction “disappearance” such as Amri Che Mat, Joshua Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu in brief.

I don’t want to spoil (I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book. And in case you don’t have money to buy it, let me know, I’ll buy it for you!), but I want to highlight two (2) important findings - final decision - by SUHAKAM panel on 3rd April 2019 after 18 months of public inquiry. In summary:

#1 The Panel Identified the Special Branch of the Royal Malaysian Police Is Responsible for the Abduction. “The direct and circumstantial evidence in Pastor Raymond Koh’s case proves, on a balance of probabilities, that he was abducted by State agents namely, the Special Branch, Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur” (see page 145).

#2 There are (4) Common Features Between the Disappearance of Raymond and Che Mat, namely, 1) Religious Issues. Raymond was accused of proselytizing the Muslims, read chapters on ‘Raid by JAIS’ and ‘Death threat’; 2) Direct Surveillance. Both “were under surveillance before they were abducted” (see page 147); 3) Similar Modus Operandi. Both were “boxed-in by three 4WD” (147), and 4) Presence of the Golden Vios. “In both cases, there were a golden Vios at the scene” (147), for a more unsatisfied explanation regarding the owner(s) of this car, read chapter ‘Golden Vios.

After I finished reading this book, I’m amazed by the courageous acts of people such Raymond’s wife, Susanna and his family; Roeshan Celestine, a righteous witness of Raymond’s abduction; Jerald Gomez, Koh family counsel; both authors, Stephen and Hwa Beng; and many more. I’m frustrated by the injustice, lack of transparency and incompetency of the Royal Malaysian Police (although the police submission during the SUHAKAM public inquiry page 140-143 must be read and take into consideration). Strangely, this book offers hope too “without which all is lost,” said Stephen Ng. Fellow Malaysians read it!


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