Amongst the many comments after the statement was read, I think what Haris Ibrahim said has stuck in my mind and make me seriously reflect on it since Friday. The thoughts below are mine but based on what Haris challenge for us – the people to reexamine our collective responsibility in how we have allowed the systems and institutions to come to where they are now (often by our silence and inaction –or short spurts of action!)
While there are legitimate calls to get to the truth, hold people accountable, demands for authorities to take responsibility, and justice to be seen and done, a short pause to look into the mirror is needed. The anger is real, and for some the line crossing towards hatred is also real. But the challenge before us is how can we translate the energy which is found in the anger towards changes that this tragedy now associated with the name Teoh Beng Hock will be prevented in the future.
I find it equally tragic that so often it needs the death of an individual to wake us up. But then, after we wake up, are we going to fall back to sleep again?
Civil Society Joint Statement 2009.07.17
Royal Commission of Inquiry on 1st Political Death under Najib as Prime Minister
We, the undersigned civil society groups hereby register our shock, grief and anger at the first political death under the 105-day-old Najib Administration.
Our hearts go out to the fiancée and family of Mr Teo Beng Hock, political secretary of Selangor State Executive Councilor Ean Yong Hian Wah who died falling off the Selangor headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) reportedly on Thursday afternoon, just a day before his planned marriage registration.
(1) the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to independently and thoroughly investigate the incident and include in its terms of reference the key issue of whether the present command and power structure of MACC has played a role in this tragic incident. Half of the members of the Royal Commission should be nominated by the Federal Opposition to ensure credibility.
(2) that MACC national director Ahmad Said, Selangor Director Moh Samsudin and all officers involved in the investigation of Ean Yong and his fellow lawmakers be immediately suspended until the completion of the Royal Commission’s work to ensure no cover up or obstruction to the investigation.
No one should die because of politics
We are extremely shocked and saddened that politics in Malaysia is not only degrading human freedom and dignity, but has also claimed human life. While many Malaysians have suffered political persecution including detention without trial and torture, no one – to our knowledge – has directly died at the hand of a government institution because of politics since the Kampung Memali incident in 1985.
No blood should be shed because of politics. Even one life lost is too many. Unfortunately, Beng Hock is now the first political death under the Najib Administration and under the MACC, which has joined the police force in causing death in custody.
We, and we are sure, all Malaysians categorically demand call on PM Najib Razak to see to justice being done on Beng Hock’s death.
It was Najib’s failure that he had done nothing in his first 100 days to investigate the allegation by UMNO Maran Division Committee Member Halimi Kamaruzzaman that he was roughed up and forced to strip by MACC officers in a politically-motivated investigation targeting another UMNO politician Norza Zakaria. If that was done, Beng Hock may still be alive now.
Just a week ago, forty civil society groups listed the reform of MACC as one of Najib’s Key Performance Indicators in his second 100 days. It is essential that Najib institutes political reforms to restore democracy and human rights.
A Royal Commission of Inquiry is the only acceptable body that can resolve and bring to a closure the many unanswered questions on the shocking developments leading to and after the death of Beng Hock:
Firstly, isn’t the MACC’s investigation and office raids on Mr Ean Yong and six other Pakatan Rakyat lawmakers in State Assembly over alleged corruption in constituency fund allocation around RM 500,000-600,000 selective and politically motivated? Why have long standing and vastly more serious scandals like that of the RM 12.5 billion PKFZ project and the RM 24-million “Khir Palace” not been pursued with the same enthusiasm and vigour?
Secondly, Beng Hock was interrogated for 10 hours and 45 minutes consecutively from 5pm on Wednesday to 3.45 am Thursday. This was revealed by the MACC Director of Investigation Mohd Shukri Abdul himself. What was the MACC’s motive in interrogating Beng Hock in such an unacceptable sleep-depriving manner that rivals the mental torture at Guantanamo Bay and why was he denied the presence of his counsel?
Thirdly, Beng Hock was then allegedly released and allowed to rest in the lobby of the MACC office. According to Mohd Shukri Abdul, he was still seen by a MACC officer at 6am. Who was this hard working officer who turned up at work at 6am? Why was Beng Hock incommunicado, according to Ean Yong, even after his alleged release? Why did he not drive home after resting?
Fourthly, the MACC refused to confirm Ean Yong of Beng Hock’s death at 4 pm when they claimed to have known about it at 1.30pm. Why? Why did MACC call a press conference only at 5pm, three and a half hours after knowledge of the death?
Fifthly, Beng Hock’s family was first denied access to his body and later given only one and a half hour to bring their own pathologist. What was the logic behind these incomprehensible decisions? Was there anything to hide?
Malaysians are demanding answers to all these questions. The least we must do now is to ensure that justice is done with no cover up whatsoever and with full transparency and credibility.
Nazri Must Apologize
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz should apologize unreservedly to Beng Hock’s family for speculating that Beng Hock had jumped off the building ahead of the conclusion of thorough and unbiased investigation.
1. Ragunath Kesavan, President, The Bar Council
2. Liau Kok Fah, Chairperson, Civil Right Committee, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor
Chinese Assembly Hall（CRC-KLSCAH）
3. Gayathry Venkiteswaran, Executive Director, Centre for Independent Journalism（CIJ）
4. Dr Lim Teck Ghee, Executive Director, Centre for Policy Initiatives（CPI）
5. Andrew Khoo, Convener, Civil Society Initiative for
6. K. Arumugam, Coordinator, Group of Concerned Citizens（GCC）
7. Ng Chong Soon, President, Youth Section of Kuala Lumpur and
Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall（YS-KLSCAH）
8. Lee Song Yong, Secretary of National Affairs,
Malaysia Youth and Student Democratic Movement（DEMA）
9. Maria Chin Abdullah, Executive Director,
Persatuan Kesedaran Komuniti Selangor（Empower）
10.Zaid Kamaruddin, President, Jamaah Islah Malaysia（JIM）
11.Haris Ibrahim, Convenor, People’s Parliament
12.Tah Moon Hui, Coordinator, Suara Rakyat Malaysia（Suaram）
13.Wong Chin Huat, Chairperson, Writer Alliance for Media Independence（WAMI）
14.Kua Sin Kheng, President,
Youth Section of Malacca Chinese Assembly Hall（YS-MCAH）
15.Low Seong Teong, President, Youth Section of Negeri Sembilan
Chinese Assembly Hall（YS-NSCAH）
16.Tang Kwai Fun, Director of Civil Society Committee LLG Cultural Development Centre
17. Ho Yock Lin, Coordinator for Solidarity Building Committee, All Women’s Action Society Malaysia (AWAM)