The son of a Malaysian pastor abducted over two weeks ago believes his father may have been murdered for his faith amid increasing persecution of non-Muslims in the country.
According to Free Malaysia Today, Jonathan Koh this week filed a second police report on suspicion that his father, Pastor Raymond Koh, was murdered. He explained that the reason for the report was the lack of information or a ransom demand, even though the family had offered a reward of about $22,500.
Koh, 62, was kidnapped some time in mid-morning on February 13 while on his way to see a friend. At the time of his abduction, the pastor's car was surrounded by three, or possibly four black SUVs. He was bundled into one of the SUVs before the convoy drove away, with one of the kidnappers driving the pastor's car, according to CCTV footage.
World Watch Monitor reports that at first, police refused to file a "missing person" report, despite witnesses to the abduction. However, they have now formed a task force to investigate the case, which is believed to have religious connections.
Koh's family has offered a reward for information leading to his release, and his wife, Susanna, told The Star she has struggled to sleep since her husband's abduction and fears for his life.
"I don't know what is happening. I appeal to whoever has taken him not to harm him," she said. "He is a good husband, father and pastor, who helps the poor. My husband has been involved in Harapan Komuniti, a community work project which he set up more than 10 years ago and which involves giving free tuition classes to children and English lessons to adults."
She added, "My children and I are very anxious ... But I am very thankful and overwhelmed by the love and generosity of God's people. So many messages of support and encouragement have come in. God is good. He is faithful.
"Please continue to pray for his early release in a safe condition. Pray also pray for my and my children's safety. Let us persevere in prayer for the prayers of the righteous avails much. Let us continue to love God and do good to our neighbours. Raymond would be very happy today if he knows not only Malaysia is praying for him but also the whole world."
Koh was first questioned by police in 2011 after being accused by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department of trying to convert Muslims to Christianity, following a raid on a fundraising dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church. At the time, the pastor reportedly received a bullet in the mail, and reported it to the police. That case was eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence
WWM notes that the abduction comes against a background in the country of pressure against non-Muslims; in fact, this week, the Malaysian parliament began its debate of a bill to empower Sharia courts which would pave the way for enforcing hudud - the strict Islamic penal code. Hudud law allows for penalties such as amputation of limbs and stoning.
The chairman of the Christian Federation of Malaysia, Rev. Eu Hong Seng, also released a statement, saying: "Members of the community pray the authorities would be able to locate Koh... We ask the authorities to conduct a quick and thorough investigation into this incident and bring to justice its perpetrators.
"We pray for the success of law enforcement and investigating officers to locate the missing pastor and bring him to safety. The work of people of faith in such communities must be free from threats of violence and intimidation."
Malaysia is ranked 31st on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where Christians face the most persecution.