Media statement by Lim Kit Siang in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday, 27th January 2011:
Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh Beng Hock's mysterious death fulfilled only one of three criteria needed to fully satisfy public demands for a credible, high-level, wide-ranging and no-holds-barred probe
The Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh Beng Hock’s mysterious death fulfilled only one of three criteria needed to fully satisfy public demands for a credible, high-level, wide-ranging and no-holds-barred probe.
I had yesterday given the instant comment that the Royal Commission of Inquiry announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, is “a step in the right direction” as it has an expanded scope to investigate into the cause of Teoh’s death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters at Shah Alam on July 16, 2009 – as Najib had earlier announced with full public support by the MCA President Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek that the RCI is only tasked with investigating MACC’s “investigation procedures” but specifically excluded from probing into the cause of Teoh’s death.
It was this limitation of the RCI from further probing into the “Open Verdict” of the Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas in Teoh’s inquest excluding suicide as the cause of Teoh’s death and the important finding of Teoh’s pre-fall neck injury, which had caused nation-wide consternation and outrage - further compounded by the refusal of the Attorney-General Tan Sri Gani Patail to give public accounting whether he was seeking to revise the Coroner’s “Open Verdict” to reject the finding excluding Teoh’s death as caused by suicide!
If Gani Patail had not wanted to revise the Coroner’s “Open Verdict” by striking out its finding excluding suicide as the cause of Teoh’s death, why didn’t the Attorney-General immediately exercised his powers and duties under Section 339(2) of the Criminal Procedure Code to take action and direct the police to initiate investigations against those MACC officers who must be held responsible for Teoh’s prefall neck injury and to get to the bottom of the truth about the relationship of Teoh’s prefall injury to his death?
While the RCI’s terms of reference now cover the cause of Teoh’s death, it scope has been narrowed from that originally announced by Najib in July 2009.
As announced yesterday, the RCI’s terms of reference are to enquire “whether or not there was any impropriety in the MACC’s conduct during the examination of Teoh in 2009; and to enquire into the death of Teoh and the circumstances surrounding and contributing to his death”.
This scope of inquiry into the MACC’s investigation methods solely confined to Teoh is much narrower and restricted than that announced by Najib in July 2009 – “which is to scrutinize and study the procedures related to interrogations that are used by the MACC”, including “identifying if there were any violations of human rights during Teoh’s interrogation”.
What Najib announced in July 2009 is a wide-ranging inquiry into the MACC’s investigations whether torture, physical violence, violation of human rights had been perpetrated against those who fell into the hands of the MACC since it started operation in January 2009 and not just confined to Teoh.
This is very clear from Najib’s Q & A in his media conference on July 22, 2009:
“Q. What will the Commission investigate?
“A. It will be on the (MACC’s) procedures relating to its investigation, not the investigation on Teoh’s death and the normal investigations conducted by the MACC.”
Malaysians had been promised that there would be a full public scrutiny of the MACC’s investigation methods because of numerous serious allegations of torture and physical violence perpetrated by MACC officers.
Is the narrowing of the RCI terms of reference from a full public inquiry into MACC investigation techniques not confined to Teoh’s case a quid pro quo to secure MACC agreement in exchange for broadening the RCI’s scope to cover Teoh’s cause of death?
I had stressed three criteria for any RCI into Teoh’s death to command full public confidence – its terms of reference, scope of investigations and membership.
It is also regrettable that the Prime Minister had not fully consulted the Teoh family – as he had earlier promised to meet with Teoh’s family after the Coroner’s inquest – or the civil society on the most suitable candidates who should be appointed as Commissioners of the RCI.
It is no exaggeration to say that as a whole, the composition of the six members of the RCI into Teoh’s death does not inspire full public confidence.
The question is why Najib is not prepared to consider the nominees suggested by Teoh’s family and civil society if the Prime Minister is fully committed to “leave no stone unturned” to get to the bottom of Teoh’s mysterious death at the MACC headquarters on July 16, 2009?
At this late stage, is the Prime Minister prepared to consult with the Teoh family and the civil society to appoint their nominees as Commissioners so that the RCI into Teoh’s death could start off with proper public confidence and trust in the inquiry?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timor