Anwar Should Unravel The Mystery Of Raymond Koh 2 Others
There could be no more rousing start to the government of Anwar Ibrahim than to unravel the mystery of the enforced disappearances of Pastor Raymond Koh in February 2017, and earlier to that, of Shia Muslim Amri Che Mat, and Christian evangelists Hilmy and Ruth Sitepu.
As prime minister, Anwar has the power to rip open the curtain that veils their enforced disappearances from public scrutiny.
Otherwise, it can be inferred that even someone as powerful as the prime minister is helpless against the sinister forces of the Malaysian deep state.
The four enforced disappearances are a mocking stain on the escutcheon of Malaysian democracy.
However imperfect that democracy, enforced disappearances are descent to a level of moral turpitude we cannot allow for the reason of its shameful resemblance to the dictatorships and one-party states of the last century and, even, of this one.
There are deep and systemic faults in the way we treat foreign workers, refugees, and others. But the enforced disappearances of our citizens by non-state or, worse, by state actors, is a slippery step down the ladder of man’s inhumanity to man.
A special odium is reserved for those who were responsible for this crime; a special aversion is felt towards those who ought to know about this crime and are, thereby, complicit in their silence.
They occupy special niches of infamy in an imaginary gallery of national rogues.
An inquiry of the National Human Rights Commission (Suhakam) has blamed state actors for the disappearance of the four citizens.
After the public disclosure of Suhakam’s findings, there has been no progress in getting the authorities to draw the curtain and unwrap the mystery of the enforced disappearances.
A leader who has suffered an inordinate share of victimisation by arbitrary arrest like Anwar would get his administration off to a characteristically emancipatory start by unwrapping the mystery of the enforced disappearances.
As prime minister, Anwar has the power to unveil that mystery.
If he does so, he will have garnered a vote of public confidence greater and more numinous than the one we assume he would gain when Parliament meets on Dec 19.
Anwar had begun his administration by assuring that Malay rights and Islam would be protected.
In the same vein, he assured non-Malays of their constitutional rights and position.
He could elevate the stature of Islam and simultaneously boost the morale of the non-Malays by unwrapping the mystery of the quartet’s disappearance.
Prime Minister Anwar IbrahimHere, it is appropriate to recall that when Dr Mahathir Mohamad began his first administration in mid-1981, he ordered the release of several prominent detainees who were held under the nefarious ISA, a colonial-era law deservedly consigned in recent years to the dustbin of national history.
A few of the released detainees were rounded up in mid-1976 when the administration of Hussein Onn began its shaky start under the shadow of a communist threat, given a more sinister hue by the fall of Saigon and the rest of Indochina to the communist North Vietnamese in May 1975.
The release of the ISA detainees bathed the Mahathir administration’s start in a lambent glow, though six years later that auspicious beginning was dissipated in a series of ISA arrests under Operation Lalang.
Sure, bright starts may turn out to be false dawns.
However, the unwrapping of the mystery of the enforced disappearances of Koh (top picture), Amri, Hilmy, and Ruth, would give the Anwar administration an imperishable niche in the ledger of storied political beginnings. - Mkini
TERENCE NETTO is a journalist with half a century’s experience.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of MMKtT.
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