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Wife of abducted Malaysian pastor begins High-Court case to find truth

23 June 2023

Open Doors

Susanna Koh (right) with her daughter, Wendy (centre), and friend at the High Court, last week

Susanna Koh (right) with her daughter, Wendy (centre), and friend at the High Court, last week

THE wife of a Malaysian pastor who was abducted by masked men in 2017 has begun a civil case in the High Court against the country’s government to discover the truth of what happened to him.

Susannah Koh is the wife of Pastor Raymond Koh, who was abducted in February 2017 by a group of 15 people in masks who reportedly surrounded his car with seven blacked-out SUV vehicles. Nothing is known of his fate or whereabouts since then. Ms Koh and her supporters, however, are arguing that the Malaysian government and police were complicit in the abduction, and in hiding the truth, the charity Open Doors reports.

Open DoorsPastor Raymond Koh

Two days of initial court proceedings ended on 7 June, including testimony from witnesses to the abduction.

Ms Koh told Open Doors: “I feel vindicated that we have been able to come so far and that our story is being heard. . . We are hopeful that we can get the justice that we want.”

A 2019 investigation into Pastor Koh’s disappearance, conducted by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia, concluded that the abduction had been orchestrated by the Special Branch of Malaysia’s Police Department, which is responsible for internal security and intelligence gathering for the government. In response, the government formed a task force for the case, but the findings, due in late 2019, were never released.

A key part of Ms Koh’s lawsuit is that the report findings be made public, together with details of her husband’s whereabouts, Open Doors reports. She believes that he was targeted because of his work with the Christian charity Harapan Komuniti (Hope Community), which works with people with HIV/AIDS, recovering drug addicts, homeless people, and single parents.

Ms Koh, who has taken on some of her husband’s work in the charity, says that he was open about his faith, but had not been attempting to convert Muslims. “[There were] allegations that he was converting Muslims through the NGO that he set up. . . but there is no evidence of it.”

Malaysia is number 43 in Open Doors’ World Watch List (News, 21 January 2022), which ranks nations by the levels of persecution and discrimination experienced by their Christian populations. The hardline Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party are the largest party in a coalition government — one of the few government bodies worldwide to congratulate the Taliban for liberating and ruling Afghanistan.

The High Court was due to reconvene on 20 June, with hearings planned into spring 2024. Ms Kos’s lawyer, Datuk Gerald Gomez, told Open Doors that he hoped that she and her family would eventually find out the truth of what happened. “I believe, sooner or later, the truth will come out in one way or another. Even if Raymond is martyred, he is with God and is in a better place.

“But, if he is still alive, then I want to do all I can to get him out. I have had dreams and believe that one of these days soon, we will meet him again.”

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