Ashamed, saddened and grieving

Ashamed, saddened and grieving

This morning I was asked how I feel about the announcement by Home Minister Muhyiddin Yassin that a special committee will be formed as a response to Suhakam’s conclusion that “Special Branch, Bukit Aman, abducted and disappeared Amri Che Mat and Pastor Raymond Koh.”

I feel disappointed and pleased. I’ll tell you why with a story. The story may seem unrelated, so please bear with me.

Yesterday I picked up a copy of Utusan Malaysia, to see how Malaysia’s premier Malay language daily covered the passing of Sultan Ahmad Shah of Pahang on Wednesday. (I have previously written of Malay media’s treatment of the Suhakam inquiry.)

I was captivated by a full-page article titled Almarhum jadi ‘hakim’ bicara kes buli (“The late Sultan presided over an inquiry into a bullying case”).

The article was based on comments made to the author, Zulkifli Jalil, by Datuk Ruhaidi Abdul Kadir (“Dini”), the Pahang Umno information chief.

Dini, Utusan’s Penang Bureau chief from 2003-2006, had recounted the bullying of a pupil at a Muslim school (Sekolah Menengah Agama Al-Maidah Addiniah, Padang Tengku, Kuala Lipis), in April 2005.

The 13-year-old Muhammad Afiq Qusyairi Baharuddin was brutally beaten by his fellow pupils. He was admitted in intensive care units in two hospitals. Returned from death’s door, he underwent months of physiotherapy.

On 14 June 2005, the late Sultan held an “open inquiry” in the assembly hall of the school. 495 students, including the suspected bullies, attended. Also present were 33 teachers and three wardens.

Note: The then Education Minister, Hishammuddin Hussein was present during the Sultan’s inquiry (not stated in Zulkifli’s report).

Dini wrote an article about the Sultan’s inquiry. Utusan front-paged her article, with the title “Saya malu, sedih, dukacita – Sultan.” In English, “I am ashamed, saddened and grieving – Sultan.”

Zulkifli notes two outcomes of the inquiry:

First, the Menteri Besar of Pahang, “from time to time” visited the school “to ensure that discipline issues did not recur in the school.”

Second, “in July, on instruction of the Sultan, several senior teachers, the headmaster and a warden were transferred to another school.”

A boy is bullied in school. He is seriously injured. The government sits on its hands. The Sultan is ashamed, saddened and grieving. The Sultan holds a public inquiry. The Education Minister watches sheepishly. 45 days after the inquiry action is taken against school staff.

Now I will relate that to Muhyiddin’s announcement.

A man, Amri Che Mat, is abducted and disappeared in Perlis, on 24 November 2016. Three months later, on 13 February 2017, another man, Pastor Raymond Koh, is abducted and disappeared in Selangor. A month later a couple, Joshua and Ruth Hilmi, are reported to have disappeared in November 2016, in Selangor.

Suhakam holds a 45 day public inquiry spread over 18 months, chaired by a distinguished, retired judge of the Court of Appeal. On 3 April 2019, Suhakam concludes that the cops did it. Suhakam is ashamed, saddened and grieving. The Prime Minister mocks Suhakam’s conclusion as being based on “hearsay.” No action is taken against anyone.

51 days after Suhakam published its findings, Muhyiddin announces that the cabinet has decided to form a committee – and adds that the names of members haven’t been finalized.

How do I feel?

I feel shame that the announcement is not tinged with shame, sadness and grieving.

I feel sad that Muhyiddin and the cabinet only “moved” after they were relentlessly shamed in public.

I feel the grief of good cops, concerned citizens and the families of the disappeared over the seeming impossibility of bringing anyone to justice over disappearances engineered by bad cops in Malaysia.

Rama Ramanathan blogs at write2rest.blogspot.com and is the spokesperson for CAGED, Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online.

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Amri Che Matenforced disappearancesPastor Koh