Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Death fall

Najib's Government has just agreed to set up an inquest to find out what led to the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political secretary to Sri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry will also be set up look into the interrogation methods used by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as well as whether any human rights had been violated. The police investigation report will also be made public.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak made the right decision because nobody would have believed the police or the MACC investigation reports.
Nobody will believe the authorities because of the circumstances leading to Teoh's death.
Everybody I asked has told me that there are only two possibilities - either Teoh committed suicide or someone killed him.
It has been announced that Teoh went to Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam where he was questioned by the Selangor MACC on the 14th floor. CCTV footage showed him entering the building last Wednesday and obviously he did not leave.
MACC officers said he was allowed to leave at 3.45am last Thursday morning. He was reportedly seen sleeping on a sofa at 6am by MACC officers. At 1.30pm, his body was found on a 5th floor ledge.
A post mortem revealed that he died around 8am to 9am.
What happened from 6am till 8am? Nobody knows.
How did a piece of the latch of a window on the 14th floor (where the MACC office is) break off and land near his body?
If Teoh had jumped to his death, how did he manage to climb up the window which has a chest-high opening?
If Teoh had been discharged from questioning - as a witness - why were his backpack, handphone and wallet still in the possession of the MACC?
Why would Teoh want to commit suicide when he was supposed to marry his fiancee who was pregnant with his child?
There are too many unanswered questions and the sceptical public would be even more sceptical of the answers that the police or MACC would come up with.
An inquiry by independent panellists would be the best solution as it would have some semblance of respectability.
Teoh's death is tragic in many ways.
Of course, Teoh's death itself - and the circumstances that led to his death - is shocking and tragic.
Another shocking tragedy is how quickly it became a Malay vs Chinese issue and even more shocking and tragic is how the Malay newspapers played up the issue and made it racial to the extent of accusing people of insulting Malay institutions like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
Since when has a Government department become a Malay institution? It is also tragic that the commentary was written by a relatively well-respected senior editor, and I am sure many of his non-Malay colleagues are puzzled by his stance.
The death of a person, regardless of race, in controversial circumstances has nothing to do with racial issues. The search for the truth has nothing to do with racial issues. The struggle for justice has nothing to do with racial issues.
It is tragic that Malaysia, which will turn 52 next month, is still divided by race and it is tragic that intelligent journalists are fanning emotions with illogical and ridiculous comments.

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