The Cabinet today agreed to form a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the sudden death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock while under the watch of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission last Thursday.The decision to form the royal commission was made at the weekly cabinet meeting today.The meeting was chaired by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak. Read here for more in malaysiakini-- END OF UPDATE
Questions About the Death of Mr Teoh Beng Hock....
UMNO MP Gua Musang
/Former Finance Minister of Malaysia
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Mr Teoh Beng Hock’s death marks a watershed in the attitude of the public towards their government. The government has plumbed a new low in loss of credibility. Many people have come up to tell me in anger or despair that they feel their country has gone off the rails. People who previously considered themselves apolitical have been roused into active engagement.
There have been too many deaths under custody. But this death is particularly disturbing because Mr Teoh died after interrogation by a specially commissioned watchdog agency, inaugurated with fanfare last year by the outgoing administration. The very agency set up to combat the abuse of power has become in the public eye a symbol of the abuse of power.
Mr Teoh was a mere witness. He was questioned about the possible misuse of funds by his employer, a state assemblyman, to buy flags for the last Merdeka celebrations. The sum in question was RM2,400. He was questioned for eight hours through the night. He was found dead the following day outside the MACC’s headquarters.
Mr Teoh, 30, would have registered his marriage last weekend. His fiancée is two-months pregnant.
If the Perak debacle reminded us of the importance of the Constitution, the death under suspicious circumstances of Mr Teoh Beng Hock has brought home in a heart-wrenching way how much we need our public institutions to be independent and law-abiding. A shocked public is demanding answers, and rightly so.
Questions about how Mr Teoh died cannot be shut down with the usual warning that it is “liable to confuse the public” because the public is already confused.
We are confused about how an idealistic young man with everything to live for can enter the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as a witness one day and be found dead outside the next.
Questions about the death of Mr Teoh:
- Cannot be swept aside with the paternalistic instruction to “leave it to the authorities to investigate,” because the death of Mr Teoh appears to be just the result of “leaving it to the authorities investigate.” It is precisely the independence of the investigating authorities that people are questioning.
- Cannot be suppressed with the warning “not to speculate” when the investigating authorities were apparently able to prognosticate, ahead of their own investigations, that foul play was not involved, and some leaders appear to have special knowledge that Mr Teoh jumped to his death of his own accord.
- Cannot be evaded with the low tactic of racializing the issue because the death of Mr Teoh touches us all as citizens, brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers. None of us wants to live under a government apparatus that cannot be trusted to be independent and to tell the truth.
- Cannot be suppressed with authoritarian prohibitions because they are about the integrity and independence of institutions that belong to the people. Those ministers who talk down to the people may have forgotten who put them into government and pays their wages, and whose questions they were put there to ask. And to answer.
It is our right and indeed our duty as citizens to keep asking questions when someone dies under circumstances that put the entire government under a shadow.
- Our basic institutions are rotted out, and,
- We are headed down the path of a failed state.
As we ask these questions let us accept our joint responsibility to push uncompromisingly for an overhaul of the key institutions that have rotted through under exactly the kind of authoritarianism that would prohibit discussion of the circumstances of the death of Mr Teoh Beng Hock.
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Senior Umno leader Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah expressed concern that the recent death of Teoh Beng Hock is a sign that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has gone “rogue”.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah said that nothing should be spared in the effort to find out the reason behind the death of the DAP political aide.
He also hit out at the MACC for investigating minor cases while ignoring major examples of graft.
He said that Malaysians no longer feel safe or secure if mere witnesses called in to give evidence to a graft busting agency could be found dead the next day.
"I feel it is very bad for a country like this. We have been independent for 50 years. Must people called up for queries end up in a coffin?Police are now probing his death and the Cabinet is expected to discuss widespread calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the tragedy.
"This is a question of death you know. People want to know. I want to know. How could it happen?
To a witness, who is going to give evidence and he is not even a suspect over the spending of RM2,400.
Some people with millions of dollars, they get away with it and are not called for investigation."
Tengku Razaleigh said calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh's suspicious death would be of NO USE if the government does NOT follow through on its suggestions.
He said the government had IGNORED the recommendations of PREVIOUS Royal Commissions, such as the one that investigated the V.K. Lingam case of alleged judge fixing and on improving the police force.
He even likened the sidelining of previous royal commissions to "insulting the King."
The former finance minister also spoke out against the performance of the MACC, pointing out that it has not been as effective as its counterpart in Hong Kong at wiping out the corruption scourge.
He hit out at the commission for allegedly going after potentially minor offences but ignoring the MAJOR ones, saying that the current MACC model needs to be reviewed.
The following is a transcript of TMI's conversation with Ku Li.
TMI: I understand you have some concerns about the recent death of Teoh Beng Hock who was found dead outside the MACC headquarters.
Ku Li: Yes. Why should anybody who is called for assistance into investigations or is held in the custody of the MACC die? There is no reason. I am not saying they are responsible for the death. That is subject to investigation. Can't they look after these people to ensure nothing happens to them? Must it happen like this all the time?
TMI: Do you agree with the calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry?
Ku Li: That seems to be thinking of a lot of people. That may not necessarily be the best thing to do under the circumstance. You look at the previous royal commissions — on the police, on the Lingam tape. It leads us nowhere and the government doesn't implement all the recommendations even though it was formed in the name of the King. I think it's like insulting the King, not to implement those decisions. People took the trouble to give their views during the hearings. These are people of credible standing who spent their time and energy to get to the bottom of problems. But the government just ignores the recommendations. I hope if they set up a Royal Commission on Mr Teoh's death, they should dig up everything and leave no stone unturned so we can resolve this problem and make people really happy and satisfied but the government must implement what the Royal Commission puts up. It depends on the composition of the commission — who they pick and select. It must be people of unblemished character so that people do not doubt their integrity. This incident has brought about a lot of unhappiness in the country. People don't feel secure, people don't feel safe. People feel they are not protected if a man who is not a suspect, is called to give evidence to the MACC is found dead the next day, I feel it is very bad for a country like this. We have been independent for 50 years. Must people called up for queries end up in a coffin? I don't think that is what the government wants or what the people want. It's not very good for the country.
TMI: What changes do you recommend for the MACC? There have been allegations that MACC is being used as a tool to put down political rivals.
Ku Li: That is always the accusation of the opposition. But let me put it to you this way. It depends on how you read the MACC and how it is implemented. Also there are people running the MACC. Some may employ rough tactics so that they take over control of what they are supposed to do. I thought when the former prime minister wanted to amend the previous law on anti-corruption, he was going to base it purely on the Hong Kong model and I am very attracted to the Hong Kong model if not even to the Australian model.
TMI: Which aspects of the Hong Kong model are you attracted to?
Ku Li: Well, it is more or less the same except that you make it very independent and they were successful in fighting corruption in Hong Kong which was really rife in those days and after the inception of the anti-corruption law in Hong Kong and setting up the machinery to implement those laws, you see that there is minimal or even talk about corruption in Hong Kong. So it has borne fruit. I thought that our government would take that model in toto to implement here and plus whatever other new mechanisms that could be put in place to really stop the rot that is damaging our society. But obviously it is not. And now you see with this death of Mr Teoh, obviously the rogue has taken over the role of controlling all these things which I think is not right.
TMI: Do you think the MACC should be made answerable to Parliament rather than the prime minister's office?
Ku Li: Well it is very difficult for me to say. It must be independent, whether it is Parliament or whatever, I don't know. But we have to relook at the whole model.
TMI: Are you satisfied with the way the investigations have gone so far? So far, only the police have conducted investigations.
Ku Li: I think it is the right thing to do. Now, you are demanding for a Royal Commission and if it is ever set up then they should be neutral, independent and like I said, they should dig up everything and leave no stone unturned. The scope of the investigation is very important. Set up Royal Commission, a lot of hoo-ha and after some time, it dies down, nobody cares and I don't think it should be the case. This is a question of death you know. People want to know. I want to know. How could it happen? To a witness, who is going to give evidence and he is not even a suspect over the spending of RM2,400. Some people with millions of dollars, they get away with it and are not called for investigation.
TMI: Do you share the sense of unhappiness that certain Barisan Nasional personalities are not investigated by MACC but they are investigating these Pakatan Rakyat assemblymen?
Ku Li: That's why I mentioned just now, some people get away with it. Even people accused of amassing funds or fortunes to the tune of billions of dollars. These people are not investigated although accused. But in this instance, it is over RM2,400 for the purchase of flags or buntings.
How Can You Give Justice for Teoh Beng Hock ?
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First you need to get rid of the current UMNO led regime. That means, NO MORE supporting MCA, MIC, Moquito Party PPP and the other many smaller mosquitos.
These are the parties that prop up UMNO and make UMNO audacious, which means recklessly bold in defiance of convention, propriety, law, or the like; insolent and brazen. They give excuses for UMNO to continue to rule under the pretext of being multi racial, taking care of the needs of each individual race, under the banner of the BN.
What they actually perpetuate is the supremacism of one race. Which in turn makes UMNO abuse the rule of law, with the help of government institutions headed by the "Little Napole0ns", without fear of repercussions. They know that the people are impotent. East Malaysians better wake up, before a similar incident happens in your own back yard.
Once that happens you can bring justice for Beng Hock and the many victims who have died due to Police brutality, god knows there are many.
You can bring these paragons of "law enforcement", plus our juciciary and now our infamous MACC to justice. You will be able to throw in a few Ministers in to face the music, maybe starting with the head honco himself.
No matter what screwups the Pakatan Rakyat does, people do not die. These screwups are birthing pains, tolerate them.
You must apply the first principle of war. Do not deviate from that aim, do not add on other aims, for surely you will fail. Hold on to the first aim of getting rid of the UMNO led regime.
Tell Pas to get it's shit organised and stop being shit stirrers with unity talks with a power crazy rabid organisation.
Then after conducting a clean up of the civil service, appointing people with a sense of fair play and justice, only then can justice be served.
Justice for Teoh Beng Hock, Kugan and the many dead. Which will of course lead to better ruling of this beloved country of ours.
So people stay focussed, wake up.