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MACC IN THE DOCK

Posted in Uncategorized by malaysiasms on July 18, 2009

MALAYSIA TODAY


(Malaysian Mirror) – The tragic and horrendous death of Teoh Beng Hock at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Selangor has stirred up national disbelief and outrage overnight. This newly constituted institution set up to replace the old Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) is now in the dock in the court of public opinion.

So far, the MACC account of what happened while Teoh was being interrogated until the time when his body was found had not been well received. To label the circumstances of his death as “mysterious” would be the understatement of the year.

The modus operandi of the MACC has also been criticised. Why was Teoh questioned from 5pm until 3.45 the next morning, a period of over 10 hours? Did the deprivation of sleep constitute the kind of torture frowned upon by the international community? Why was he denied the right to have legal representation during his interview by MACC officers? Was that the way to treat a co-operative witness during any kind of criminal investigation?

teoh-beng-hock.gifAfter this tragic loss of life of a young man in the prime of his life, who would dare go alone to the MACC office to volunteer statement in relation with any MACC investigation?

MACC has already come under fire from leading Pakatan Rakyat leaders for what they see as being the political tool of the ruling Barisan Nasional in their “selective persecution” of PR officials in PR-held states. Teoh’s death at the MACC building would certainly further the cause of the opposition PR coalition.

tengku razaleigh.pngThe young man’s gruesome death has alarmed even BN leaders and supporters. Even widely respected Umno veteran Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah has written on his blog expressing his shock and dismay.

He wrote, “The strange circumstances of Mr Teoh’s death put the credibility of the government and our investigative and law enforcement agencies under a microscope. The public will expect nothing less than a full investigation into how something like this could have happened.”

The police is now investigating into Teoh’s “sudden death”. But the police itself is under a cloud of mistrust from the rakyat following numerous deaths in police detention, especially the case involving Kugan Ananthan.

In this context, the call by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim for a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate into Teoh’s death will strike a sympathetic chord across a large swathe of Malaysian population.

But then, many cynical Malaysians may even scoff at this call, citing that recommendations from Royal Commissions of Inquiry on police reform and anti-corruption have not been fully accepted and implemented by the government. They would still demand that any anti-corruption agency in the country should be made answerable to Parliament.

The proper functioning of our public institutions depends on trust from the citizenry. Without that trust, the rakyat will not co-operate with the institutions of state. Any glaring anomaly such as the horrible death suffered by Teoh is the sort of incident that will destroy the trust of the public in MACC, at a time when there is widespread discontent against corruption at all levels of government.

What is worse is that in one fell swoop, Teoh’s death has swung all the emotional energy of the nation towards the opposition side, thus negating the feel-good euphoria following the PM’s first hundred days in office, the Umno resurgence in Manik Urai, and the receding PR influence resulting from their public bickering among one another.

What is certain is that public uproar over Teoh’s death will not die down any time soon. The establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to dig out the truth on the matter would indeed be prudent, not least to assuage public anger against the BN government.

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