‘RELEASE RAYMOND KOH’ – 5YRS SINCE PASTOR ABDUCTED IN MALAYSIA
It’s five years since Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight on the streets of Malaysia. The pastor was kidnapped in a military-style operation in February 2017 and hasn’t been seen since. Responsibility for his kidnapping, which was captured on CCTV, has been laid at the door of the Malaysian Special Branch. Release International is calling for a secret official report into the abduction to finally be released.
Susanna Liew, Pastor Koh’s wife, holds on to hope that her husband is still alive. She has called for international efforts to be stepped up to set him free. Malaysian Christians held a candlelit vigil on the anniversary of his abduction on February 13 to pray for his release.
In 2017 Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted in broad daylight by a disciplined snatch squad. CCTV cameras captured the moment when black SUVs surrounded and boxed in Pastor Koh’s car, forcing it to a halt. Several other vehicles were involved in the kidnapping.
Hooded men ran towards the pastor’s car and shattered his windscreen, before the entire convoy was driven away. Up to 15 men were filmed taking part in the abduction, which was completed in just 40 seconds.
In 2019 Malaysia’s Human Rights Commission accused the police of carrying out the kidnapping. They said Pastor Koh and others had been ‘abducted by State agents, namely the Special Branch [of the Royal Malaysia Police].’
‘Five years have passed, yet there has been no word whether Pastor Koh is dead or alive,’ says Paul Robinson, CEO of UK-based Release International which supports persecuted Christians around the world.
‘Malaysia must secure his release and account for his disappearance, which by any standards is a crime. After all these years still no-one has been held accountable.’
More than 80,000 people from 190 countries have signed a petition calling for Pastor Koh to be set free and for the government to release a report on the abduction, which has been kept under wraps.
According to the rights group Civicus, the report ‘is classified as “secret” under the Official Secrets Act 1972 and [the Malaysian government claims] its public release would be against “national interest”.’
Raymond Koh, an Evangelical Free Church pastor, set up Hope Community to help the poor in the capital Kuala Lumpur. He helped people with HV/AIDS, recovering addicts, single mothers and children.
The authorities suspected him of attempting to convert ethnic Malays to Christianity and raided a fundraiser in 2011. Death threats were made against Pastor Koh and his wife Susanna. The pastor was sent two bullets, while his wife, Susanna, received white powder, which she was later told was anthrax.
Susanna Liew has vowed to take ‘relentless action’ to press for his release.
Christians make up about nine per cent of the population of Malaysia, where proselytising Muslims – attempting to convert them – is forbidden by law. Christians from a Muslim background can face severe persecution. The state bars its Muslim citizens from converting to another faith. And those who change their religion could be charged with apostasy.
In October 2021, Malaysia was elected to the United Nations Human Rights Council. ‘What could be more fundamental than the freedoms of faith and to live in peace?’ asks Paul Robinson of Release International.
‘For Malaysia to put itself forward as an arbiter of human rights,’ he adds, ‘it must show the world it can truly live up to those standards.’
Release International is pressing the Malaysian government to investigate the disappearance of Pastor Koh and bring about his release. The petition to the Prime Minister and the Inspector General of Police states:
‘One of your country’s loyal citizens… Pastor Raymond Koh was kidnapped off the streets on February 13, 2017, and has not been seen since. His wife and children have been left to wonder what happened to him and whether he is still alive.
‘We, Pastor Raymond’s fellow Christians from around the world, call on your government to release any and all information related to the forced disappearance… including any involvement of Special Branch.’
You can sign the online petition here
Release International is active in around 30 countries. It works through partners to prayerfully, pastorally, and practically support the families of Christian martyrs, prisoners of faith and their families, as well as Christians suffering oppression and violence, and Christians forced to flee.
Watch the video of Pr Koh’s abduction, caught on CCTV, below: