Pastor Raymond Koh’s abduction rattles Malaysians

The Feb 13 abduction, in broad daylight, of Pastor Raymond Koh has rattled the Christian community and other concerned Malaysians.

Mar 10, 2017

The Feb 13 abduction, in broad daylight, of Pastor Raymond Koh has rattled the Christian community and other concerned Malaysians.

Hundreds gathered on March 5 at vigils in Shah Alam, George Town and Johor Bharu to pray for the safety and speedy release of the pastor, who was committed to uplifting the marginalised of his community.

Ahead of the vigils, a CCTV video apparently showing the pastor’s abduction went viral on social media, raising even more questions. The pastor’s family appear to have no idea who compiled the CCTV footage of the abduction.

The footage shows what appears to be a professional job involving a number of personnel in three large black vehicles and two sedans and a couple of motorbikes. Someone even emerged from one of the vehicles to apparently record the operation while others blocked traffic from coming too close.

This quick operation, choreographed to clockwork precision, must have required considerable resources, training and practice. That left many wondering what kind of shadowy or rogue group in Malaysia had that kind of ability.

The police have shown us, in the North Korean case, that they have the ability to track down suspected assassins in a crowded airport and trace them out of several million people in KL.

Concerned Malaysians are hoping that they will be able to similarly track down the pastor’s whereabouts. They are also praying that those who detained the pastor will have a change of heart and release Raymond, assuming he is still alive.

The pastor and his colleagues had set up a community centre for single mothers, those suffering from HIV/Aids and drug addicts.

His group, Harapan Komuniti, hit the news in 2011 when when they held a thanksgiving dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church for their co-workers, volunteers and the marginalised. The event was raided by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) who believed Muslims were being enticed to convert to Christianity. But they lacked the evidence to support their claim.

Even without the pastor’s abduction, concerned Malaysians have been unnerved by Hadi’s bill in Parliament, which could pave the way for the implementation of hudud laws in the longer-term. This would have far-reaching implications for the secular character of our nation.

Parliament reconvened earlier this week and, this time, members of Parliament will have to seriously look at Hadi’s bill which has already made many feel uneasy, though many ordinary Malaysians are either unwilling or reluctant to voice their concerns out of fear.

These are difficult and troubling times for the nation. For many, it would be all too easy to succumb to collective fear and despair, much like how the disciples went into hiding and cowered in fear after Good Friday. The disciples had lost all hope of a brighter future as darkness descended around them. The cloak of fear in the air was so thick it could almost be sliced with a knife.

But, we are supposed to be the salt of the earth and there should be no room for fear or despair in our book. Sensing the anxiety and despair among his followers, who lived under oppressive Roman rule through local despots, Jesus himself repeatedly told his disciples, “Do not be afraid.”

He urged them, instead, to live up to their calling to be the salt of the earth, the builders of his kingdom.

All concerned people of Malaysia —Christians, people of other faiths, people of goodwill who want to celebrate our diversity, not shun it — must stand up and speak up, loudly and clearly, for what we believe.

Together, we must work to build a more inclusive Malaysia despite the best attempts of those who wish to intimidate, sow fear and promote their own narrow and divisive ideas.

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