ANOTHER activist has disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia’s capital, bringing the total number to have gone missing to five in just six months.
According to New Straits Times, former Petaling Jaya councillor Peter Chong Fook Meng has been missing since Thursday and his family members lodged a police report on Saturday detailing the 54-year-old’s disappearance.
Chong’s disappearance came just days after he posted an unusual Facebook post about a mysterious encounter he had with a passer-by in the streets close to his home.
The post details his interaction with a “young motorcyclist” who stopped him to ask if he lived in the area as he recognised him from protests and vigils for missing activists.
After admitting his support for Chong’s work, the motorcyclist said in Malay:
“Be careful… nowadays a lot of people have suddenly disappeared. They all know where people live.”
When Chong asked who the people were he was referring to, he just said “pandai-pandai lah (be smart) … take care boss … and rode away. Now, is this strange?” the post read.
Chong is the fifth activist to go missing in recent months, prompting widespread concern on social media that no progress has been made by police in their efforts to find them.
In March, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife were reported missing by a close friend who believed the couple may have disappeared as early as November as he has had no contact with them since then. Police have done little to recover the pair, stating insufficient information to build an investigation.
Back in November, co-founder of charity Perlis Hope, Amri Che Mat, vanished in a cloak-and-dagger operation just metres from his home.
Amri’s wife told The Star that witnesses saw five vehicles box in Amri’s car before taking him away just 550m from their home.
Rumoured to be a Shia Muslim and accused of spreading Shiite teachings, a practice that is outlawed in predominantly-Sunni Malaysia, Amri’s wife has declared these accusations “nonsense”, claiming her husband was a helpful man who believed in secular charity.
The alleged abduction holds striking similarities to that of Pastor Raymond Koh who disappeared on Feb 13, this year.
Footage emerged of the professionally executed abduction involving at least 10 men and three black SUVs.
The whole operation took just 40 seconds, and its military precision has raised questions as to why such as expert operation was used to capture a seemingly harmless and well-liked pastor.
Koh was a dedicated philanthropist and charity worker. He set up charity organisation Harapan Komuniti in 2004 to help single mothers, drug addicts and those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
Following his disappearance, Koh’s family offered a RM100,000 (US$22,500) reward for any information leading to his safe return but, as yet, no one has come forward. The kidnappers have made no contact and the police still have no leads in the case.
Hundreds gathered at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) in the centre of Kuala Lumpur on Saturday to hold a candlelight vigil in solidarity with family members of those missing. Chong is known to have attend similar events in the past.
Given the religious background and charity work of the activists, many fear religious persecution may be the motivation behind the abductions.
Speaking at the event on Saturday, National Human Rights Society of Malaysia president Ambiga Sreenevasan said, “There must be freedom from fear…that is an important human right,” as reported by The Star.
Bersih 2.0, a group that campaigns for fair elections in the country, has also expressed concern over the growing number of missing activists and pushed the police to do more towards finding them.
In a statement released Saturday, the electoral watchdog said they were “shocked” by the disappearance of Chong and called on police to “immediately act swiftly to search and rescue Peter as well as the other four missing persons.”
“Indeed this is a very sad day for all Malaysians that disappearances are happening here in our country and yet there has been little assurances or news from the police on their efforts to locate the whereabouts of these missing persons,” the statement read.
The group also called for an urgent meeting with the Inspector General of Police to update the public and mitigate the anxiety of the families.
The police are yet to respond to their request and, until they do, there remain many unanswered questions in these mysterious cases.