Do not evade calls for Royal Commission on Teoh's death

More civil society groups have come forward since 17 July to call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to investigate the cause of Teoh Beng Hock's death. They rejected the Cabinet's decision on 22 July to form an RCI limited to probe the MACC procedures and leaving the task of investigating Teoh's passing to an Inquest headed by a Magistrate.

 


 

Civil Society Joint Statement

24th July 2009

 

A
Royal Commission of Inquiry on Beng Hock’s Death

 

We the undersigned civil
society organizations urge upon PM Najib Razak to heed the call of the late Teoh
Beng Hock’s family to establish a Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate his
death. Najib’s insincerity in ensuring justice for Beng Hock has caused misery
for the second time to Beng Hock’s families and the nation at
large.

 

Instead of appointing a
Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to study Beng Hock’s death and the role of the
Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s structural and institutional flaws in the
tragedy, Najib has smartly tasked the RCI to study only the investigative
procedures and left the investigation of Beng Hock’s death to an inquest which
will be headed by only a magistrate.

 

No right-thinking
Malaysians will believe that a magistrate – who is technically a bureaucrat
rather than part of the Judiciary and whose appointment is in the hand of the
Attorney General – can unearth the truth behind Beng Hock’s torture and
death?

 

Najib has also defied the
popular calls for the suspension of involved MACC officers and for the
ratification of the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

 

We categorically demand
Najib on the following matters:

 

1. That the Royal
Commission of Inquiry shall investigate the death of Beng Hock in entirety,
including the real reasons why a bridegroom-to-be be interrogated for 11 hours
over a small sum of RM 2,400, and not just the investigative procedures. Flawed
investigative procedures are only the weapon, not the murderer. The RCI’s term
of reference must first and foremost include ascertaining if selective and
politically-motivated investigation had caused the breach or abuse of the
investigative procedures that led to the torture and subsequent death of Beng
Hock. The nation demands to know who are responsible in the blatant abuse of
MACC itself to the extent a witness had to be tortured and found dead
mysteriously over an allegation of mere RM 2,400. The culprits must be held
responsible and charged. The RCI must have power to call upon other alleged
victims of selective investigation and torture by MACC and its predecessor the
Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA), including Halimi Kamaruzzaman and Tan Boon Hwa.

 

2. That the Royal
Commission of Inquiry must be appointed based on a cross-party consensus to
ensure its integrity and credibility.
Alternatively, the chair and half of the remaining commissioners must be
nominated by the Parliamentary Opposition Pakatan Rakyat. Explicit criteria
based on wide consultation must be established. It should include an
internationally renowned retired judge from home or other Commonwealth country,
a past president or senior leader of the Malaysian Bar, an internationally
respected forensic expert from home or other country, a nominee of the
Parliamentary Opposition and a leader from a human rights non-governmental
organization.

 

3. That all the MACC
officers involved in the investigation of Teoh Beng Hock, his employer Ean Yong
Hian Hwa and the latter colleagues, right from MACC chief Ahmad Said at the helm
of its chain of command must be immediately suspended pending on investigation.
The public cannot have confidence if Ahmad Said who categorically disowned any
responsibility of Teoh’s death remains in-charge. Also, if allowed to continue,
the involved officers may claim more victims after Beng Hock.

 

4. That Malaysia should
ratify the United Nations Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or
Degrading Treatment or Punishment and meet the corresponding legal and policy
obligations. All institutional sadism must end.

 

5. That a foundation should
be established and named after Beng Hock to carry out research, education and
reconciliation works against torture by all state institutions. The insensitive
remarks by and unapologetic attitude of a MACC officials and senior ministers on
Beng Hock’s death, followed by the fanning of ethnic sentiments by certain
senior editors, suggest that the practice of torture is deeply rooted in,
tolerated and even defended by certain segments of the Malaysian society. If
there is no obvious commitment to ensure Beng Hock is the last victim, many more
may suffer torture in the hand of law enforcement agencies and die in
custody.

 

We call upon Najib to
implement these reforms immediately. He must heed the call of the Teoh family.
Najib’s continued refusal to steadfastly pursuing justice for Beng Hock will
make his “1Malaysia” slogan more hollow and hypocritical. What good is equality
if it means everyone has an equal chance to die in custody and every culprit can
get off scot free?

 

Initiated by

 

  • Ngeow Chow Ying, Vice-Chairperson, Civil Right Committee, Kuala
    Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall(CRC-KLSCAH)
  • Haris Ibrahim, Convener, People’s Parliament
  • Andrew Khoo, Convener, Civil Society Initiative for Parliamentary Reform(CSI@Parliament)
  • Gayathry Venkiteswaran, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Journalism(CIJ)
  • Nahar Mohd Nor, Jamaah Islah Malaysia(JIM)
  • K. Arumugam, Coordinator, Group of Concerned
    Citizens(GCC)
  • Helen Ang,
    Centre for Policy Initiatives(CPI)
  • Maria Chin Abdullah, Executive Director, Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor(Empower)
  • Dr Toh Kin Woon,
    Chairperson, Penang Du Zhong Education
    Foundation
  • Tah Moon Hui, Coordinator, Suara Rakyat
    Malaysia(Suaram)
  • Wong Chin Huat, Chairperson, Writer Alliance for Media
    Independence(WAMI)
  • Ho Yock Lin, Coordinator for Solidarity Building Committee, All Women's Action Society
    Malaysia(AWAM)
  • Lee Song Yong, Secretary of National Affairs, Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic
    Movement(DEMA)
  • Ng Chong Soon, President, Youth Section of
    Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese
    Assembly Hall(YS-KLSCAH)
  • Kua Sin Kheng, President, Youth Section of Malacca
    Chinese Assembly Hall(YS-MCAH)
  • Low Seong Teong, President, Youth Section of
    Negeri Sembilan Chinese Assembly
    Hall(YS-NSCAH)
  • Hii Yik Ping, Chairman, United Chinese
    Association(YCA)Youth Sibu
  • Tang Kwai Fun, Director of Civil Society Committee LLG, Cultural
    Development Centre(LLGCSC)