On 12 January, the New Straits Times (NST) carried a report headlined: “IGP: Police not investigating US-based academic Ahmet T Kuru.”
The report summarised the response of the inspector general of police to a report the previous day by Free Malaysia Today (FMT) titled “US-based scholar claims he feared arrest at KLIA.”
According to the NST report, the inspector general “refuted claims made by US-based academic Ahmet T Kuru, who alleged that he was approached and investigated by the authorities”.
And the inspector general added that “checks revealed no evidence of police approaching [Kuru] as described.”
On his Facebook page, Kuru has made several postings about his experiences in Malaysia.
- Sign up for Aliran's free daily email updates or weekly newsletters or both
- Make a one-off donation to Persatuan Aliran Kesedaran Negara, CIMB a/c 8004240948
- Make a pledge or schedule an auto donation to Aliran every month or every quarter
- Become an Aliran member
Kuru has shared with approval the FMT report about his experience in KLIA, Malaysia’s international airport.
Kuru has shared the “selfie” he took with the man whom he alleges is one of five police officers who tried to apprehend him in the airport – in the departure hall, after he had cleared immigration and customs.
Kuru has shared his apprehension that interventions by the Turkish ambassador to Malaysia are a cause of his woes in Malaysia.
Malaysia watchers well know that people are easily disappeared in Malaysia. Sometimes the perpetrators are directed by the state. At other times, the perpetrators’ actions are condoned by the state.
Three examples come instantly to mind.
The first example is the forced, without-passport ‘return’ to Turkey, by the Malaysian authorities, of Alettin Duman and Tamer Tıbık. We know this because on 14 October 2016, Turkey’s foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, tweeted “Last night we received three terrorists from Malaysia.” And the families of Duman and Tibik lived in Malaysia and said the pair’s passports were in their homes.
The second example is the enforced disappearances – “by the Special Branch, Bukit Aman” – of alleged Shiite social activist Amri Che Mat and Christian pastor Raymond Koh on 24 November 2016 and 13 February 2017 respectively. We know this because this is the conclusion of an exhaustive investigation by Suhakam, the human rights commission of Malaysia.
The third example is that of Joshua and Ruth Hilmy, who’ve not been heard from since 30 November 2016. We know this because, after another exhaustive investigation, Suhakam concluded that the state (the police and therefore the government of Malaysia) was complicit in their disappearances due to the police’s lackadaisical handling of the case.
There are many more examples of brisk dismissals by the police of disappearances in which they are implicated. We will not recite them here.
It is an undeniable fact that people disappear in Malaysia, and the police cannot, will not or fail to find them.
It is an undeniable fact that corruption was so rife in some police “special taskforces” – one of which was implicated in attempts to cover up the abduction of Raymond Koh – that they had to be disbanded in 2018.
It is an undeniable fact that police cannot watch over themselves. This is the conclusion of countries around the world and of the 2004 (Dzaiddin Abdullah) royal commission on reform of the police.
The brisk denial by the inspector general of Kuru’s claims – without the depth of investigation which is warranted because Malaysia is a state of abductions and disappearances – simply proves the point that there is a need for independent oversight of the police.
As we’ve said before, the so-called Independent Police Complaints Commission (IPCC) is a toothless, limbless creature which satisfies only the need of the police for tools to cover up its failures. The Ismail Sabri Yaakob government designed the IPCC to be a cosmetics kit to cover up blemishes and deep failures in the police force.
It would not be far off the mark to say that only the police cheered when the IPCC bill was passed on 16 July 2022. The Pakatan Harapan coalition did not support the bill.
But on 10 January 2024, Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail – a member of PH – announced the names of five persons who have been appointed to the IPCC. The chairman is Zolkopli Dahlan, formerly of the Prime Minister’s Department.
Will Zolkopli demand that the inspector general treat Kuru’s allegations with the seriousness they deserve? Will he press the inspector general to investigate and publicly name the person in the photo with Kuru? Or will he do what he was designed to be: the chief cosmetician of the Royal Malaysian Police?
Rama Ramanathan is Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) spokesperson