PETALING JAYA: A lawyer representing the family of Ruth Sitepu, wife of a pastor who has disappeared since 2016, criticized the Attorney General’s Office (AGC) for not cooperating in an investigation into her disappearance.
In a public investigation into the disappearance of Ruth and her husband, Pastor Joshua Hilmy, Philip Koh expressed concern about Suhakam’s difficulties in obtaining evidence from the AGC.
This comes after Suhakam official Simon Karunagaram shared today that the commission secretariat has contacted the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), Maybank, Maxis and the AGC to assist with the investigations.
He said that Suhakam received feedback from all agencies except the AGC.
On January 11, the investigating panel was informed that the AGC had ordered some evidence to be withheld, alleging that providing the information to third parties could undermine efforts to locate the missing couple and possible suspects.
According to Simon, Suhakam had written to the AGC on January 19 to request more information about the couple’s disappearance. They received a response on February 2, requesting more time due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
A second letter was sent on March 24, “but the matter is still pending.”
“We were told that they are still planning to discuss and decide on Suhakam’s request,” said Simon.
Koh criticized the AGC’s “general” refusal to release information, saying it should help to seek out the truth behind the couple’s disappearance.
“Saying that this could undermine the investigation sounds more like the executive is unwilling to get to the bottom of the matter in a way that could be helpful to the harmed families,” he said.
Koh requested that another letter be written to Attorney General Idrus Harun to have his office reconsider its decision, otherwise his clients may seek declaratory relief, with the AGC as the defendant.
Koh also questioned the police and the MCMC’s “inability” to track down the account holder of an e-mail, which allegedly linked Federal Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to the disappearance of Ruth and Joshua.
Last year, witness Selvakumar Peace John Harris claimed that, in several emails, Khairy – who was then the minister of youth and sports – had warned Joshua to leave Malaysia and that Khairy had exchanged several email messages with missing pastor.
Khairy denied the charges, saying he did not personally know the pastor or witness.
Pointing out that he didn’t want to assume that “VVIPs” were involved in the case, Koh noted that the emails were sent by someone under the pseudonym “Wifi Gurl”.
“As I understand it, the MCMC, after its initial reluctance, now says it can’t track or doesn’t have the facility to do so, because ‘wifi gurl’ is registered as a Yahoo account.”
He said there was no reason why the MCMC and police could not discover the true identity of the e-mail account holder.
“It’s our concern that whoever operated on that email has something to do with the missing couple,” he said.
Koh added that the Immigration Department has not produced any evidence to support its claims that Ruth left the country voluntarily.
Joshua, a Malaysian Muslim who converted to Christianity, and his wife Ruth have been missing for more than four years. They were last seen on November 30, 2016.