Teoh’s Family Unhappy With RCI, Seeks Meeting With Najib
By Wong Choon Mei
The family of DAP politicaL aide Teoh Beng Hock has asked to meet Prime Minister Najib Razak to express their unhappiness over his “neither here nor there” proposals to investigate their son’s suspicious death after a marathon interrogation by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.
“We hope the Prime Minister will not wait until the findings of the probes are completed before seeing us,” sister Lee Lan said on behalf of their parents on Thursday.
“If he is unable to visit us before that, then we are willing to see him personally in Putrajaya and ask him to change his decision and form a single commission instead.”
Najib had a day ago announced the formation of a much-awaited Royal Commission of Inquiry. He also said he would personally inform the family of the outcome of investigations.
But instead of tasking the high-level panel to investigate what caused Beng Hock’s controversial death, the PM said the RCI would only focus on the MACC’s standard operational procedures for interrogation.
An inquest would be separately conducted by a magistrate to investigate the cause of his death.
The PM’s announcements caught the nation by surprise and has drawn sharp rebuke from both opposition politicians and civil society leaders.
Even Beng Hock’s family harbors doubts. They expressed their disappointment and questioned the government’s sincerity to get to the bottom of their son’s death without bias or trying to cover up for the MACC.
“We were elated when we first got the news but then later felt disappointed when it became clear that the Royal Commission would only investigate MACC’s procedures while the inquest would be carried out to probe my brother’s death,” Lee Lan told a press conference.
“This is not what the family wanted as we had made our request known to several ministers including Najib’s political secretary when they visited us last week.”
The family had thanked Najib when initially informed of the move on Wednesday although they did not yet have the full details.
Sadly, he has not fulfilled their trust in him and the family now wants his assurance that Beng Hock will get the justice he is entitled to.
“We understand how they feel and will stand by their decision to reject the government’s proposal,” said PKR strategic affairs director Tian Chua.
“We hope the Prime Minister will heed their call and broaden the terms of reference for the RCI. Najib should not try to escape his responsibility. That would be totally unacceptable.”
Consultation with civil society vital for independent probe
The 30-year old Teoh was found dead on the 5th floor podium of an adjoining building to the MACC headquarters in Shah Alam, Selangor at 1.30pm on July 16.
He was called in on July 15 for questioning as witness in a probe over alleged misuse of state funds by his boss, Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong.
But there is huge politicking behind the scenes and it is an open secret that Selangor Umno – which Najib heads – has been trying hard to destabilise the Pakatan Rakyat state government through all ways and means.
Weeks before Beng Hock died, the MACC piled pressure on seven Chinese Pakatan assemblymen including Ean by raiding their service centres and questioning their aides and associates.
Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Hwa, who had supplied RM2,400 worth of flags to Ean, was also interrogated at around the same time as Beng Hock.
Tan has since blown the whistle on the MACC’s interrogating methods which he said included torture to force false confessions from witnesses. He has filed a lawsuit against the agency for illegal detention and for trying to extract a false statement from him to implicate Ean in corrupt activities.
His revelations sparked a huge uproar, forcing Najib to conduct a more thorough probe. The authorities had initially said Teoh had apparently “jumped” while the police were quick to deny foul play.
However, latest clues including the discovery of Beng Hock’s missing handphone have bolstered postulations that foul play was indeed involved in his death. The seat of his pants and his shoes were also badly torn when his body was found.
Civil society leaders have also urged Najib to consult the public before broadening and setting the terms of reference for the RCI.
This was to ensure that the Inquiry would be independent and that vested interests with the MACC and the government itself would not be able to mislead the direction and scope of investigation so as to deflect attention from areas they wished to keep under wraps.
“I hope the government will take into account the deep and wide concerns of the people. There is still time to review and expand the terms of reference before members of the commission are appointed. Let this opportunity be seized,” said Ramon Navaratnam, chairman of the MACC panel for prevention of corruption and consultation.
“In drawing up the terms of reference for any public commission, it is always better to consult people from outside and who are concerned with the future of the country because sometimes if done in-house, there can be unhealthy inbreeding.”