PUTRAJAYA: Home Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has given assurance that a newly-created special task force to look into the alleged enforced disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh and Amri Che Mat will be independent despite some of the members being former and serving police officers.
This comes as a group questioned the appointment of the police officers as members.
Muhyiddin said the task force’s ability to investigate the case should not be questioned, especially when a former high court judge is leading the team and no former or current Special Branch officers are involved.
“I have confidence that the task force will act independently and will not be influenced by the fact that former and serving police officers are members,” he said in response to a question at a media conference to introduce the members of the special task force yesterday.
Former High Court judge Datuk Abd Rahim Uda will lead a six-man special task force, which also includes Royal Malaysian Police’s Integrity and Standard Compliance Department director Datuk Zamri Yahya and former head of Bukit Aman’s legal division Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor.
The others are Enforcement Agency Integrity Commission (SIAP) director of operations Datuk Muhammad Bukhari Ab Hamid, legal officer with the Attorney General’s Chambers Mohd Sophian Zakaria and Police Commission under-secretary Mohd Russaini Idrus.
In April, Suhakam made a verdict that Bukit Aman’s Special Branch was likely behind the disappearances of Koh and Amri.
“The task force will look at all aspects, but its main focus is to determine if Suhakam’s verdict on Special Branch’s involvement is indeed true,” said Muhyiddin.
He said the team, which was given six months to come up with a report, would investigate the case involving Amri first before concentrating on Koh to prevent the task force from interfering with an ongoing court proceeding.
“Once the report is ready, we will decide on the next course of action that needs to be taken by the ministry.
“I will also be informing the Cabinet on the outcome of the task force’s investigation.
“As to whether the report will be made public, it will be decided later on. For now, let the task force members do their job,” he said.
Amri, who is the co-founder of the NGO Perlis Hope went missing on Nov 24, 2016 after leaving his home in Kangar in an SUV.
Pastor Koh, who founded the NGO Harapan Komuniti, is believed to have been abducted by a group of men along Jalan SS4B/10 in Petaling Jaya on Feb 13, 2017, while on his way to a friend’s house.
The families of Koh and Amri have questioned the appointments to the task force probing the disappearances of the two men.
In a statement, Koh’s family said there are no women in the task force, and added that it does not reflect the composition and the multiracial spirit of the country.
They added that suggestions made earlier were not taken into account.
It had been suggested that a member from the Bar Council, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and a representative from an NGO be included in the task force.
The family lamented the inclusion of former Royal Malaysian Police Legal Unit chief Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor in the task force.
“If a police officer who participated in the Suhakam hearing can be appointed to the task force, then a lawyer from each of the families should be appointed to ensure a balanced and fair approach to the investigation and the report that is to be submitted,” Koh’s family said.
Meanwhile, Amri’s wife, Norhayati Mohd Ariffin also expressed her concern about the composition of the task force, noting that it will impact the independence and impartiality necessary for a credible investigation.
“We note that Datuk Mokhtar Mohd Noor, the former head of Bukit Aman’s Legal Division, is a member of this task force. This is the same division that was implicated in the flawed investigation into Amri’s abduction and later, in the team representing PDRM during the Suhakam inquiry.
“As such, Mokhtar is clearly an interested party and so, represents a conflict of interest,” she said.
Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged) said the appointment of the task force members were persons who “wish to hide the truth and not to reveal it”.
“The task force appointment is a blatant attempt to undermine and subvert the unanimous findings of three distinguished, legally-trained, Yang di-Pertuan Agong-appointed human rights commissioners.
“All right-thinking Malaysians must reject this supposed special task force,” it said.