An agonising wait for hubby's return
Published on: Sunday, April 02, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: It has been more than six weeks since Pastor Raymond Koh went missing and for his wife of 34 years Susanna Liew, those weeks have been both devastating and rewarding all rolled into one."In my heart of hearts, I know he is still out there. I can feel it. I dreamed of him and we talked about his wellbeing. Always the same dream, in a place with sand everywhere and he is just fine," she said.

Susanna and her daughter Esther flew into Kota Kinabalu on Friday to take part in a special prayer vigil organised by the Sabah Council of Churches and Commission for Sabah Affairs (Cosa) to pray for God's protection and the safe return of her husband. She had been going to as many prayer vigils as she could, admitting that it is the continuous support and encouragement received from friends and even strangers, urging her to be strong, that had kept her going.

As she told the stories about her husband, of his charitable works to the poor and underprivileged through their NGO, Harapan Komuniti, she managed a weak smile but could not hide the tears as they started to fill up her tired eyes.

"I made myself busy so I could take my mind off this. But on most days, during my most lonely moments, memories of him just come rushing into my mind and my heart. And I wonder if he is okay," she said, slowly wiping the tears at the edge of her eyes that threatened to reveal her vulnerability.

It was more painful for her as Raymond was taken from them on the eve of Valentine's Day.

It had been their tradition to go out for a special dinner every Valentine's Day and Raymond would give her a bouquet of roses, each bud representing the year of their marriage.

Instead, she said, this year, she spent her Valentine's Day without her best friend and soulmate, not knowing where he was or what had happened to him.

Susanna slowly steadied herself, the tears had long dried up and she managed another smile as she valiantly declared that all these pains, however, only served to strengthen her faith and hope in God.

"I believe that God will bring out good out of this evil. I know of people who never bothered to pray suddenly come up to me and told me that they have been praying. I received so many messages from the world over, as far as the USA and Europe, saying they are praying for his safe return.

"It is a testament to God's mercy that through sufferings, all Christians will unite and God is using our pain to bring us together," she said.

Since the day Raymond was abducted, prayers have been pouring in and various churches organised endless vigils that God will move the hearts of the culprits to return the elderly man to his beloved family.

Susanna still could not wrap her head around the fact that as many as 15 men were involved in the abduction of a 62-year-old man and that the abduction was executed swiftly and professionally, taking less than a minute for them to corner Raymond's car before transferring him into another car.

"It was an overkill, wasn't it? One of them was calmly recording the whole incident.

When I first saw the video of the CCTV recording the incident, I was really scared.

I thought they had shot him because of the banging sound. But I saw his legs moving like he was struggling.

So I was convinced the sound probably came when he rammed one of the black SUVs in an attempt to escape," she said.

She revealed that on that day, Raymond was actually heading towards a friend's house to surprise him and give him 'belacan' to be brought back to Indonesia.

In other words, she said, Raymond was not doing any of his normal routines and the fact that the abduction took place when he was doing something out of the ordinary showed that he was followed, perhaps even from home.

This realisation hit her and her family hard, knowing that perhaps the house was stalked and their movements monitored.

"I fear for my own safety now. We never leave home alone. And wherever we go, we have to look over our shoulders to make sure we are not followed. We have, in a way, become paranoid.

This is the first time that we left the peninsula and had the courage to fly to Sabah," she said.

The pastor was at the centre of controversy in 2011 after Harapan Komuniti was accused by the Selangor Islamic Religious Department (Jais) of proselytising Muslims, following a raid at a thanksgiving and fundraising dinner at the Damansara Utama Methodist Church.

Later, a box containing two bullets and a note in Malay written in blood red threatening his life was sent to his house.

The case was dropped as Jais could not find enough evidence to pursue the case.

Susanna ended the interview with an appeal to the abductors to return her husband to the grieving family.

"He is old. What can he do? Please, we miss him every day. He never hurt a soul. We have suffered enough now," she said. - Tracy Patrick


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