KUALA LUMPUR: It's been exactly a year since Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight and on Tuesday (Feb 13), his wife issued a statement pleading for his release.
"My wish is for Raymond to be released so that he can be reunited with his family especially this Chinese New Year," said Ms Susanna Liew.
"His mother is ailing and has not seen him for over a year."
Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted on Feb 13, 2017 by masked men in the state of Selangor. Footage of his abduction, which was captured by CCTV cameras, went viral in Malaysia.
Police had looked into whether his disappearance was linked to accusations that he preached Christianity to Muslims in the northern state of Perlis. It is illegal for non-Muslims to do this in Muslim-majority Malaysia.
Authorities had also said a human trafficking syndicate could have been behind his abduction.
In January 2018, however, part-time driver Lam Chang Nam was charged in connection with Pastor Koh's disappearance after police uncovered "a new lead". They said in a statement then that they were also looking for seven others who are still at large.
Ms Liew, however, is questioning the timing of Lam's charge, given that he was first arrested in March last year. In her statement, she alluded to speculation that authorities had been unhappy with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) carrying out its own inquiry into his disappearance.
"Why is he being charged with kidnapping now, after a lapse of several months and just a day before the inquiry resumed?" she asked.
“If he really is involved, then he should know where Raymond is now. Bring him out and let the perpetrators be apprehended and justice served.”
It's been a year since Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted and his wife, Susanna, says the lack of updates on the case has compounded his family's grief and sadness. pic.twitter.com/XOEdXaehA3— Sumisha Naidu (@SumishaCNA) February 13, 2018
SUHAKAM had suspended its independent investigation of the case after being notified by police that Lam had been charged. The law stipulates that the national human rights body must cease an inquiry once the matter becomes an active court case.
However, SUHAKAM has said it would continue its probe into the disappearances of social activist Amri Che Mat in Perlis in November 2016 as well as Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife Ruth - both of whom were also last seen in November that year.
Speculation has been rife that the disappearances are connected, caused by "religious vigilantes" as Mr Amri had been accused of spreading Shia Islam in Malaysia, which practices Sunni Islam. Joshua Hilmy is reportedly an ethnic Malay and a former Muslim.
Malaysian police said these cases were being investigated as "missing persons" and not abductions though, with no link established between the disappearances so far.