M’sian Graft-Buster Used Torture To Force False Confessions
By Wong Choon Mei
Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Hwa – one of the last people to see DAP’s Teoh Beng Hock alive – has blown the whistle on the interrogation methods employed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, which included prolonged hours of physical and mental torture to force false confessions.
Tan also said the MACC gave him a stern warning not to reveal what had transpired during their ‘interview’ before releasing him.
“The MACC officer said don’t bring the matter outside. But now, I cannot keep quiet because a life has been lost,” said Tan told a press conference on Friday.
Tan, who was being interrogated in the same MACC office, had bumped into Beng Hock while going to the toilet at around 6am.
“He was in the pantry. I greeted him, but he replied only with an ‘umph’. But when I came out of the toilet, he was gone. He did look a little tired,” said Tan.
Before that encounter, Tan said he did not know Beng Hock was also being interrogated by the MACC and was in the same Shah Alam office. According to the Kajang councillor, he was taken there at around 9pm on Wednesday after the MACC raided his house without a warrant.
During his interrogation, which began soon after he arrived and ended only the next day when he was finally released around 1.30pm, Tan gave a horrifying account of the MACC’s methods of ‘persuasion’.
The councillor told reporters that he was tortured and forced to stand from 10pm to 2am, threatened and verbally assaulted with racial taunts.
“I was shouted at: This is my place, you better believe that I can hit you’. I was then asked to stand and look straight,” said Tan.
“I was not allowed to rest my head. I was made to stand for four hours. They called me a stupid Chinese. Are you from China? You can’t speak Malay?
Prolonged interrogation to extract false confessions?
Tan was pulled in by the MACC to help in its investigation into the alleged misuse of public funds by Seri Kembangan assemblyman and state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah.
Tan, who is also a businessman, had last year supplied flags worth RM2,400 to one of Ean’s community development projects.
One of the reasons why his interrogation lasted so long was also because the MACC was trying to extract a false confession from him, possibly to incriminate Ean.
“They asked whether I supplied flags. I said yes but then I was forced to admit that I did not supply the flags,” said Tan.
“They said that if I don’t ‘tell the truth’, they will take away my wife and there would be no one to care for the children. But I did not give in.”
Like Tan, Beng Hock was also called in by the MACC. The 30-year former Sin Chew journalist was Ean’s personal aide and was interrogated from 5pm on Wednesday to 3.45am on Thursday.
According to the MACC, he asked to stay back because he was tired and wanted to sleep on the couch in the office.
Said MACC investigations director Shukri Abdull: “The man was asked to come to Selangor MACC last night at 5pm for his statement to be recorded and this procedure was completed at 3.45am.
“At 3.45am, he was allowed to leave, he promised to come today to bring some documents to assist in the investigations. At 6am, he was still seen to be sleeping at the couch but we didn’t see him until 1.30pm today when the body was found.
Beng Hock’s body was found at 1.30pm on the roof of an adjoining building to the MACC headquarters. It is not clear whether he jumped, fell or was pushed.
The police have been quick to claim there was no foul play, but his bosses and colleagues are equally certain he did not jump.
They question why he was interrogated for such long hours when the MACC said he was merely a witness and not a suspect.
They also seriously doubt he would opt to stay in the MACC premises once he was released as he had his own transport and could immediately go home to rest.
Beng Hock was due to register his marriage on Friday.
Said Ean: “He was going to get married, why would he want to commit suicide. He looked calm. Before he went to the MACC office, Manoharan and myself talked to him about how to answer the questions.
“If there was any problems, I should be the one to face action. I don’t see any reason for him to commit suicide. Furthermore, there was no reason for him to linger after the interrogation because his car was here.”
Despite mounting calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Beng Hock’s death, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin has rejected the idea, insisting that the police was up to the job.
“We cannot accuse anyone or make baseless allegations as it could create unnecessary problems. Let us wait for the police to investigate the incident. Whatever it is, we are not looking to cover-up,” the DPM said.