22 July, 2009

Inquest into plunge death

"We want to establish the ɥʇnɹʇ , the whole ɥʇnɹʇ, and nothing but the ɥʇnɹʇ in this case,"

- Najib

The Cabinet has agreed to set up an inquest into the death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock as well as a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the interrogation methods used on him by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

"An inquest will be led by a magistrate to investigate the cause of death of Teoh," Najib told reporters.

"A Royal Commission will (also) be established to study the rules related to interrogation... used by the (MACC) and to find out if there was any human rights violation during the interrogation of Teoh," he added.

The inquest into Teoh’s cause of death would be headed by a magistrate as dictated by law.

It will be up to the courts to decide which magistrate would be in charge of the inquest, he added.

Najib said the courts had already been notified of the Cabinet decision and he expected the inquest to begin sometime next week.

“The Royal Commission will be set up according to specific terms, which is to scrutinise and study the procedures related to interrogations that are used by the MACC. It will also identify if there were any violations of human rights during Teoh’s interrogation.

“The members of the Commission will be announced later ,” he told a press conference here Wednesday.

He said the investigations by the Royal Commission were necessary to ensure there was no repeat of such incidents and the steps being taken mirrored the Government’s commitment to finding out the cause of death so that Teoh’s family and the public can know what really happened.

Najib said that in line with the 1Malaysia concept of “People First, Performance Now,” he had told the Cabinet that government institutions were created to protect the people’s rights and interests, and as such they cannot act against or neglect these interests or act beyond the country’s laws and Constitution.

He said the Cabinet also ordered the Home Ministry and the police to complete the investigations into the Teoh’s death as soon as possible and he was told that it would be ready within the next few days.

He said the report would be made public when it was completed and he would personally meet with Teoh’s family to explain to them the findings.

He also said that Cabinet members were just as anxious to know the cause of death and hoped that all parties would be patient and refrain from making statements that could cause confusion or create the wrong perception on the issue while the investigations were still ongoing.

He also called on all parties not to politicise Teoh’s death.

The following are Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s responses to questions from the media:

Was there any pressure to form the Commission?

Najib: No. It’s because we want to establish the truth and it’s important for us to ensure public faith and confidence in important institutions that we have in this country.

When do you think the police can complete their investigations? What kind of time frame will be set?

I know that the police can wrap up their investigations very soon. I think we are talking about a matter of days. For the magistrate (on the inquest), I don’t want to put a time frame because that is up to the magistrate to decide (on when it should be held). The Royal Commission will be established quite soon.

The investigation by the Royal Commission, will it be into Teoh’s death?
It will be on the procedures (of MACC interrogations). The inquest will look into Teoh’s death,

Who will be the members of the Commission?

We will announce this later.

Have you named the magistrate?

No, that is up to the court to decide. We have taken steps to notify the court of the need to convene an inquest. So I expect the inquest to start some time within next week.

There’s an online news portal (saying) that the MACC has suspended their investigation into the alleged misuse of constituency funds by Selangor exco members.

No, we cannot have any presumption (of guilt). We have to wait for the results of the investigations first.

What will the Commission investigate?

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.

Has the MACC investigation team been suspended?

They have not been suspended, but the lead investigator has been reassigned to the (MACC) headquarters. We cannot have a presumption of guilt.

Will the Commission investigate Teoh’s death?

No, the death will be left to the inquest. The inquest on the cause of death is conducted by a magistrate, so we have to follow the law.

- The Star

Meanwhile, veteran opposition politician Lim Kit Siang said in his blog that he was disappointed by the Cabinet decision on the mysterious death of Teo Beng Hock.

"What the Malaysian public want is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mysterious causes of Teoh's death," he added.

There will be no Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes of Teoh’s death although an inquest would be held.

A Royal Commission of Inquiry will be set up, but only to look into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigative procedures and to determine if there were any human right violations when Teoh Beng Hock was being interrogated.

This falls short of public expectations and is unsatisfactory and unacceptable.

What the Malaysian public want is a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the mysterious causes of Teoh’s death at 14th floor of MACC Hqrs, the investigating procedures of MACC as well as into the independence, professionalism and integrity of the MACC whether it has become the catspaw of its political masters to declare war on the Pakatan Rakyat instead of declaring war on corruption.

MCA, Gerakan, MIC and SUPP Ministers have led the Teoh family and the public “up the garden path” into believing that they support a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Teoh’s death.

Did they press for a RCI into the causes of Teoh’s death and were outvoted by the rest of the Cabinet or had they agreed all along to only have a RCI into the investigative techniques of MACC but not into Teoh’s death.

Let MCA President and Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, Gerakan President Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon and all the other Ministers concerned speak up!

Tengku Razaleigh, the former Finance Minister of Malaysia and chairman of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank said our major public institutions and our political system have degenerated to the point that the public no longer trusts them. A democratic system of government cannot function below a certain threshhold of public confidence. The suspicious death of Teoh Beng Hock under the custody of a watchdog body reporting directly to a prime minister who has his own public confidence issues may have pushed us below that threshhold.

What we must do now goes beyond political parties. We need the rakyat to rise up to claim their institutions, and demand that our public institutions are answerable to them. We must wake up to our sovereignty as citizens, reclaim the constitution which constitutes us as a nation and guarantees our rights, and demand a comprehensively reformed government to restore public confidence. We must do this before it is too late.

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