Pastor Raymond Koh Update: Frustration Mounts Over Malaysia's Inaction in Case of Missing Pastor

Mar 17, 2017 10:44 AM EDT

It's been over a month since Pastor Raymond Koh was abducted by masked men, and frustration continues to mount over the seeming lack of concern displayed by the Malaysian government.

In a statement released earlier this week, the Malaysian Bar Council said it was troubled by the "little headway" that police have made in locating the missing pastor.

"The Malaysian Bar is troubled by the continued failure and inability of the police to locate and secure the safe release of Pastor Raymond Koh Keng Joo," said Malaysian Bar president Steven Thiru. "Although a month has passed since the abduction, the police appear to have made little headway in locating the missing pastor and/or apprehending his abductors."

As reported, Pastor Koh, 62, was abducted from a street while on his way to a friend's house. Leaked CCTV footage of the attack shows a military-style, professionally executed operation in which seven cars and at least 15 men took part.

The pastor's car was seen turning off a highway as three black SUVs surrounded it and forced it to a stop. At least eight men in black emerged from the SUVs, and another man emerged from a car behind them to record the operation. The entire operation took a mere 40 seconds.

Thiru said the inaction of the government is particularly disappointing because the "vicious and outrageous act" happened in broad daylight. He added that concerns have been raised as to whether the act was perpetrated against Koh due to the social work he is known to be actively engaged in.

"The Malaysian Bar urges the police to act more efficaciously, as the lack of progress so far has manifestly eroded public confidence in our criminal justice system," said Thiru. He also urged federal and state authorities and their agencies to cooperate fully with the police task force investigating the case.

Koh's family has heard nothing from the kidnappers and now fears the worst; Koh's son, Jonathan, filed a second police report on suspicion that his father was murdered by Muslim extremists. 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.

As the family continues to look for answers, a 31-year-old Uber driver attempted to take advantage of the situation, falsely claiming to be connected with Koh's abduction in order to extort money from the family in exchange for the pastor's release.

Koh was previously at the center of controversy in 2011, when his NGO, Harapan Komuniti, was accused by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity following a raid at a thanksgiving and fundraising dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church.

Unfortunately, the past is not the only Christian leader who has been abducted recently; Mission Network News notes that Pastor Joshua Hilmy, a former Muslim and ethnic Malay, went missing last November, and his whereabouts remain unknown.

Open Doors USA President and CEO David Curry says these attacks upon Malaysia's Christians are only the latest in a series of worsening incidents of religious persecution by the Islamic authorities in Malaysia.

"There's always been a radical element within Malaysia that are battling for control, not only through the courts, but [also] through other means.  These kidnappings of key Christian leaders have popped up as one method..." he said.

"What you have here is a culture in which Christians have lost many of the rights they hope to have and have had in the past," he added. "They're under pressure in the courtroom. It's very worrying because, essentially, you're going to have Christians attacked on every side and their rights diminished."

In a statement released earlier this week, Koh's wife, Susanna, asked the international community to continue praying for her husband's' safe recovery and thanked those who have "spoken up" regarding her his disappearance.

"I hope more will step up to send a clear message that Malaysia does not tolerate such acts of criminal violence against anyone, regardless of race, religion, creed or circumstances," she said. "To my fellow Malaysians, thank you for your prayers and support. I hope you continue praying for the safe recovery of my husband Raymond, for us to not lose hope and for our nation to never lose sight of our precious harmony and mutual respect for each other."