Disturbing disappearances

I’m simply disturbed by the news that there has been not one but, at least, two abductions of Malaysian citizens that can’t be accounted for. The first case was the kidnapping of Pastor Raymond Koh, and the second involves social activist Amri Che Mat.

In addition, there is the case of Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife, Ruth, who have been missing since last November. Recently, social activist and former Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong was reported missing.

The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar, said that Chong was seen crossing into Thailand. No further details? Strange.

There is a single thread linking the above cases. They are or were involved in non-mainstream work. Koh is alleged to be involved in converting Muslims to Christianity. Amri is alleged to be a Shia Muslim spreading that brand of Islam. Joshua and Ruth are pastors, and that must be a crime! Whether religion is involved in Chong’s activities is unclear but he is a social activist associated with Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which is an opposition party.

The point is if their actions went against the law, why weren’t they arrested and charged? Instead, something more sinister has emerged. Koh’s and Amri’s disappearances suggest that well-trained personnel with access to resources such as SUVs and other vehicles professionally executed the abductions.

Are they vigilantes or terrorists? Who are they? How can they carry out an abduction in broad daylight and out in the open and no one knows anything about it? That is according to the police.

What is most disturbing about these cases is that no government official — except for the IGP — has even made the slightest reference to these cases.

Why is the government silent about these disappearances? Their silence is even more worrying because it gives people more room to conjecture what might have happened and that does nothing to allay the disquiet among Christians.

Two days ago, finally, one minister came out and said these missing persons’ cases were causing “distress to the country’s Christian community”. Tan Sri Joseph Kurup, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah president, said that these cases appeared linked to Christianity and that the government was very concerned and paying close attention to these cases.

Yet, no one has any lead about these cases. It is extremely mystifying that police can’t find any information on these cases. They are quick to solve other cases and seems to know about everything else that goes on in this country but seem stumped with these missing persons’ cases.

Of course, the government silence is political. Muslim ministers would not want to be seen sympathetic to  Christian concerns for fear of losing votes. Hence, after a long while, they left it to a Christian minister like Kurup to make a statement to allay Christian fears because they are fully aware that Christians, especially in East Malaysia, may be so disturbed by this turn of events that it might translate to a loss of votes in the general elections.

If the “safe deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak get wise to what’s happening in the peninsula, the ruling BN-government may lose the support on which they won the last general elections. East Malaysians need to know they are key in the coming general elections.

The government’s back-pedaling of Hadi’s bill to amend syariah laws in Kelantan was largely due to this factor. East Malaysians are spooked by Hadi’s bill. And the disappearance of fellow Christians into thin air without a trace hasn’t alleviated their anxiety.

The concerns expressed here are simply the questions on every decent, rational person’s mind. We need answers for a just closure.

If these cases are not solved soon enough, the Christian community in Malaysia, especially in East Malaysia, will not be convinced that we have the protection of this government. It will be a sad truth to acknowledge, a reality that Malaysian Christians must brace ourselves for and, perhaps, change for a safer future.

Today is Good Friday and on Sunday we celebrate Easter, the resurrection of Jesus Christ. It is the weekend to contemplate again on the agony of the passion of Christ and His exhilarating triumph over death. As we meditate on the fundamental truths of our faith, may we realise that we have to follow in His footsteps and bless those who curse, persecute and kill us and love those who hate us.

May we also realise that because He rose from the dead and ascended to His rightful place in heaven, He is at hand to help us make the decisions we must to change our destiny, which will be for everyone’s good.

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