19 July, 2009

No conspiracy behind Teoh's death ?

Teoh Beng Hock is "worth more to us alive than dead", according to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as he was a key witness in an ongoing case.

"He was considered a crucial witness and was assisting the MACC in sorting out files and documents which had been taken from his office."

He said it was absurd to allege a conspiracy behind Teoh's death.

"First and foremost. Teoh was a witness, not a suspect."

"As a witness, he could either produce important evidence or testify in court. Hence, he was worth more alive to the MACC than dead."

While ordinary Malaysians have expressed shock, dismay, and anger. Demonstrations and candle-light vigils have begun, symbolising an outpouring of sympathy for Teoh’s fiancée and family, and anger that the MACC has washed its hands in public and shrugged off any responsibility.

Leaders spanning the political spectrum, from the MCA’s Dr Chua Soi Lek, Umno Youth’s Khairy Jamaluddin, to PAS Vice-President Salahuddin Ayob, the PKR’s Anwar Ibrahim, the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang, and the national human rights commission Suhakam, have called for an independent Royal Commission to reveal the truth.

Some, including blogger Rocky’s Bru, condemn politicians such as the DAP’s Lim Guan Eng for trying to gain political mileage from the young DAP aide’s death. Yet it is undeniable that Teoh’s death is deeply political, for Teoh died during an MACC probe targeted at Pakatan Rakyat (PR) representatives.

The MACC has not answered allegations of corruption among Barisan Nasional representatives, such as Dr Mohd Khir Toyo, with nearly the same fanatical hounding the MACC has given PR reps. After Teoh’s death, Khir blurted out disingenuous claims that he thought the MACC to be even-handed. He alleged that he, too, had been questioned by the MACC, for eight hours, a “similar treatment” to Teoh’s. It can be assumed Khir’s “similar treatment” did not involve a fall from a tall building.

Umno papers slam MACC critics in Teoh’s death

Umno-controlled newspapers, Berita Harian and Mingguan Malaysia, today slammed critics for demonising the country’s graft-busters over Teoh Beng Hock’s death, with one suggesting there is an agenda to weaken Malay-controlled institutions.

Both newspapers accused the opposition of politicising the political secretary’s death on July 16, with Mingguan saying the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) was using the incident to divert attention away from internal problems and weaknesses.

But Berita Harian suggested the agenda was to weaken Malay-controlled institutions in the article, “Kematian Teoh timbulkan pelbagai spekulasi politik”, written by the New Straits Times group managing editor Zainul Ariffin Isa.

He wrote that political opportunism can turn grief into political capital, and death can be made a catalyst to stoke anger and racial sentiments.

“It is not just the Chinese or supporters of the Pakatan Rakyat who know anger and seek justice.

“Suspicions have been raised especially among the non-Malays that MACC, which like other departments have many Malay officers, selectively chose non-Malays to be investigated,” he wrote.

The new boss of the Umno-owned New Straits Times group did not, however, address complaints raised by two DAP men who were also, like Teoh, brought in for questioning.

The two DAP men, one a Chinese and the other a mixed Malay-Chinese, claimed racial insults were hurled at them by the MACC officers.

Like Teoh, both men were not suspects, but “witnesses,” according to MACC officers.

So far, leaders of the PR alliance, led by Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, have not referred to race in their statements demanding the MACC be held responsible for Teoh’s death.

Zainul appeared to suggest that Teoh’s death was an accident and that the MACC officer involved was Malay when he wrote in Berita Harian that “when a victim of an accident was non-Malay, who was previously investigated by a Malay, the speculation is great.”

By suggesting anti-Malay sentiment in Teoh’s death, he also appeared to suggest that government departments were Malay-based institutions rather than a non-partisan civil service.

“Why did the Selangor MB, a Malay, question those of his own race to act fairly?” Zainul wrote.

Mingguan Malaysia, which is also owned by Umno, also attacked the PR alliance for politicising the death.

The newspaper said the controversy could not be resolved through demonstrations or wild accusations.

Mingguan suggested instead that the opposition was using Teoh’s death to distract attention from its own problems.

- The Malaysian Insider



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