PETER CHONG – one of the five activists who disappeared under mysterious circumstances in Malaysia’s capital – has returned home two weeks after he went missing, local media reports.
According to The Star, the former town councillor arrived in Kuala Lumpur unharmed after crossing the border into Thailand in his bid to gather clues into the high-profile disappearance of Pastor Raymond Koh, who was abducted by over a dozen unknown assailants two months ago.
Kuala Lumpur police chief Deputy Comm Amar Singh was quoted as saying Chong went to Hatyai, Thailand, to speak to a source who apparently had information on Koh’s kidnapping, but claimed he was abducted and taken to the resort town of Pattaya before being released.
Before leaving for Thailand, Chong, who is also a former aide to an opposition politician, did not tell his family or friends of his “mission” and has yet to detail his account of what transpired during the abduction. However, he said he contacted his son to arrange for his flight home after his release.
On Sunday, Malaysia’s Inspector-General of Police Khalid Abu Bakar took to Twitter to announce Chong’s return, posting a photo of the activist in shorts and a blue T-shirt at what appeared to be the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
— Khalid Abu Bakar (@KBAB51) April 16, 2017
Chong’s disappearance came just days after he posted an unusual Facebook post about a mysterious encounter he had with a passer-by in a street 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 were the people 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.
Malaysian netizens also aired their relief over Chong’s safe return, but questioned why he went to Thailand without informing anyone.
“Don’t tell me he didn’t contact any of his friends or relatives when he was away. If he really didn’t, then he is a very irresponsible person,” a commenter Wong Keng Hoe said, as quoted by The Star.
Peter Chong should be arrested and charged for misleading Malaysians and giving the impression that he was kidnapped @KBAB51
— Mummy Foo (@mamifoo) April 16, 2017
Another netizen, James CY Kang, pointed out the nation was “looking high and low” for Chong, while another commenter Henry Por Soon Aik said it “doesn’t make sense” Chong kept the trip a secret, even if he was truly searching for Koh.
Lim Sian See said: “Amazing Peter never told his family or friends or anyone from April 5 to April 7 (the period where he was presumed missing by his family) he was going to Thailand to meet a source about Pastor Koh’s abduction.”
Chong was 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.
Koh, who disappeared on Feb 13, 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.
Footage emerged of the professionally executed abduction involving at least 10 men and three black SUVs.
The operation took just 40 seconds and its military precision has raised questions why such an expert operation was used to capture a seemingly harmless and well-liked pastor.
Following his disappearance, Koh’s family offered an RM100,000 (US$22,500) reward for information leading to his safe return, but no one has yet to come forward. The kidnappers have made no contact and police still have no leads in the case.
The alleged abduction holds striking similarities to three other disappearances.
Given the religious background and charity work of the activists, many fear religious persecution may be the motivation behind the reported abductions.
In March, Pastor Joshua Hilmy and his wife were reported missing by a close friend. The friend believed the couple may have disappeared as early as November as he had no contact with them since then. Police have done little to find 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.
— Malaysian (@twitmsian) April 10, 2017
Amri’s wife told the media 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 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.