July 18, 2009

In Memory of Teoh Beng Hock

Posted in Malaysia at 8:11 pm by egalitaria

Much has already been said about the death of the late Mr. Teoh Beng Hock, political aide to Selangor State Government Exco member YB Ean Yong, and I understand the great anger and sadness being expressed by the public to this effect. I do not know whether what I will share here will be of any use to anyone, but I would like to express my experience of the matter as a colleague of Teoh’s in the State Government (as an aide of the Menteri Besar) in the same Selangor administration. I was not close to Teoh, but being colleagues in the same building we were of course acquainted and I would see him at State events and press conferences.

Words cannot express the deep shock that many of the aides went through when news of Teoh’s death came through. It is no different for me. The fact there this young man, aged 30, was merely assisting in an investigation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) as a witness and not a suspect, fell to his death at the same building the MACC is located reeked suspicious from the very start. Any one of us as aides could have been equally tantamount to the treatment received by Teoh of the MACC – although the facts of this have not been determined – and this has been a traumatic time for all of us.

Deeper than the trauma stirs a great, great anger that is ready to implode. The anger stems from the knowledge that Teoh’s death is a result of MACC’s treatment towards him during interrogations. Teoh was believed to have fallen to his death from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam, where the MACC’s office was located. The official post-mortem report states that the cause of death was multiple injuries from a high fall. Whatever the reason for this fall – suicide or otherwise – it must be stated clearly that the MACC must be held responsible.

The MACC’s responsibility is to ensure that any case of corruption is investigated and the culprit revealed. The manner in which they acted here was most unbecoming of a Commission that is supposed to be the bastion of justice, transparency and governance. Instead, their actions shamefully display the very reversal of a commitment towards truth.

First, the case began with the mere speculation on someone’s blog that there were State Exco members involved in misallocation of funds. YB Ean Yong was one of the seven assemblymen being investigated, and the accusation in his particular case was that he had paid RM2400 for 1500 Malaysian flags used in Merdeka Day celebrations in 2008, without actually receiving them for the suppliers. The measly amount of RM2400 surely cannot justify the way in which Teoh was treated, interrogated from 6pm till 3.45am of the following day. Surely corruption cases involving millions of Ringgit are more worth the time and effort of the MACC, and not petty cases as this.

As such, even by the largest stretch of the imagination, that if this case was indeed one of corruption, it is absolutely clear that the MACC was overzealous and making a mountain out of a molehill – which in turn causes minds to question its political neutrality. If instructions were given to play up this case – and that of other assemblymen – then the independence of the MACC has all but disappeared. This incident is the final nail in its coffin, from the public’s point of view. It will be impossible for it to reclaim public trust and confidence from hereon.

Second, the manner of interrogations is also suspicious. Boon Hwa, a councillor from the Kajang town municipality, was questioned in the same case and shared at a press conference that the interrogations involved standing at attention for four hours in a row, without food or drink. Threats were made to beat him up, and mention of his family was made, should he not give the answers they wanted. He was jeered at, with humiliating calls of “Cina Bodoh!” shouted at his face – “Stupid Chinese”, an utter racist remark and itself the most shameful display of an institution of the MACC. This is a far cry from the 1Malaysia concept that the Prime Minister Najib Razak has attempted to introduce.

Although this is speculation, many wonder if Teoh was subject to similar treatment. Psychological and mental abuse that may have taken place is not the role of the MACC. It was said that Teoh was inexperienced in this regard, and being for the first time interrogated in an anti-corruption case, could have been shaken and traumatised. Although his lawyer and boss told him exactly what to do and what to say, his frailty may have caused his interrogators to draw greater strength from their imaginary power and muscle.

Third, it is unclear as to whether the MACC did indeed act according to the laws that govern them. I am not a lawyer and this should be clarified with detailed analysis. Whatever the jurisdiction of the MACC, any witness or suspect in a case should be allowed to have an accompanying lawyer. The length of time allowed for interrogation should not extend to the wee hours of the morning. The numbers of officers should be clearly specified, along with recordings of any statements made during the course of the interrogation done – both in audio and video format. If the MACC was acting outside of its legal powers, action must be taken immediately. Again, this is subject to legal analysis.

Fourth, the MACC was responsible for Teoh as he was being interviewed in their premises. Their current claim is that once interrogations ended at 3.45am, Teoh was allowed to return home but instead he requested to rest in their office. Except for someone who saw him at 6am, nobody else apparently saw him until his body was found at 1.30pm subsequently. MACC’s stand is that because he was released, they were no longer responsible for where he went and what he did.

The story seems strange because Teoh had his car parked at the basement of the building. Would it not make sense for him to have left as soon as possible? Even if he did want to rest at the office, his handphone would have been returned to him (since “interrogations were already over”), and some contact would have been established with his friends and family members, surely. However, no communication was made as far as has been reported to date.

The MACC would surely have monitored Teoh’s comings and goings. As a key witness that would warrant such thorough investigations through the night, surely his presence was important. Surely some record would have been noted, of his having officially left the building’s premises. Whatever the case, the response that nobody knew where he was – is weak and irresponsible.

Teoh was a quiet character who must have been thoroughly enthused about working in a new state administration. I cannot speak on his behalf, but the reason I have chosen to work in this Pakatan State government is because I want to contribute to a cause I believe in. To better socioeconomic policies in the view of fairness for the sake of the rakyat. I am sure Teoh was no different. Spurred on by the results of the March 8th General Elections, hope for a budding democracy had begun. Although the actual management and administration of the State has not been easy, nor without error, the struggle to create a better society is real.

As a young person, I resonate with his desire to contribute so willingly to this cause. His death cannot be in vain. Although it may spark fears amongst the young – and their parents – as to the grave political dangers of this working environment, I believe with a greater urgency and fervour that this is the right thing to do.

It can no longer be mere speculation that we as Malaysians are living in a system of darkness, corrupt and unfair practices. The treatment of a youthful, innocent man could be the same treatment given to any commoner on the street should he be hauled up by the MACC. What justice is available to an ordinary rakyat? No, the need to raise up a new generation of people to transform Malaysia to a nation of hope, justice, peace and good governance is even more necessary.

Along with many others, I call for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the death of the late Teoh Beng Hock. The inquiry must be independent, transparent and conducted by individuals of the highest integrity. This has been a rare first political death of its kind, and should changes not be made immediately to the  rotten system of Malaysia, the question looms dark in our minds: Who will fall prey as the next victim?

29 Comments

  1. Malaysia Boleh said,

    commentators ,

    please be careful with your comment.

    this issue has got nothing to do with race and please stop offending each other.

    they are just as sad and angry as you and many are crying their hearts out with deep condonlences to the deceased family and wife to be.

    this is the time for all malaysians to be united on this one issue and not let TBH death be in vain.

  2. anonymous said,

    Shit. It has everything to do with race.
    Racial slurs,bigotry,ketuanan melayu,usage of bahasa in maths and science, new economic policy,quota system,discounts for a special race,education channels and scholarships abundance,civil service job opportunities and promotions,rent seekers and concesssion holders and all that crap that makes Malaysia a failed state in the name of the great UMNO and the hypocrite Najib”s 1malaysia.

  3. egalitaria said,

    Well it is precisely the fact that this is not a racial issue and should not be allowed to be interpreted as such that I am disturbed those remarks were made during the interrogation of boon wah. I urge all Malaysians to view this as an issue of justice and not of colour. As Dr Halimah said at the press conference, on behalf of PAS, she hopes that the person who made those derogatory remarks was not a Muslim, as this would be a shameful thing. Remember, this is an issue of justice.

  4. 4RAKYAT said,

    KUBURKAN UMNO.

    THAT’S THE ONLY WAY OUT.

    UMNO DIES… AND THE REST OF MALAYSIA LIVES HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

    4RAKYAT.

  5. Sagaladoola said,

    I Must Speak Out for Teoh Beng Hock !!!!

    http://sagaladoola.blogspot.com/2009/07/i-must-speak-out-for-teoh-beng-hock.html

  6. Teh said,

    I was so shock, so sad and I am very, very angry now… Damn the BN government!!!

    Abolish MACC !!! What is the point when it is corrupted in itself ???

    First, it was the Mongolian lady who was blown into pieces and now, we have the opposition young man died in MACC’s own hands.

    Please explain Mr Prime Minister as Beng Hock’s blood is in MACC’s own hands ???

    May God destroy all of you, wicked men and women !!! Rot in hell forever !!!

  7. leekh said,

    The MACC cannot be trusted to investigate corruption cases because their minds are too simple. If they can believe and think that people can believe that Teoh committed suicide then they will believe any story told by suspects they are questioning. A person does not go take a rest and then go jump out of a window! That is what the MACC wants everyone to believe. Unfortunately we have had a number of cases where after police interrogation, the suspects decided to commit suicide. We have window jumping cases, we have those who hanged themselves in the toilet. Then we have a Minister who believe that Teoh jumped out of a window. The possibilities are 1.Teoh thought the window was a door and walked through it; 2.Teoh was looking out of the window and fainted; 3.Somebody brought him to the window and told him to jump; 4.SOmebody pushed him out of the window….

  8. koolgeek said,

    It is UMNO that is playing this issue as a race issue.

    http://www.malaysianinsider.com/index.php/malaysia/32731-umno-papers-slam-macc-critics-in-teohs-death

  9. Pak Zawi said,

    Tricia,
    Well said. My sincerest sympathy with the family and loved ones of the deceased.
    We are truly going the drain. This is not the 1Malaysia that we are hoping for. They are just a feel good slogan.

  10. MsMatch said,

    I cry for TBH and his family. He did’nt deserve this cruel fate. I pray that his death will not be in vain.

    I also find it odd that his body is on his side . If he had jumped while still alive , he would not have had any control on how the landing would be. In most suicide jumps , the victims land on their stomachs or backs .
    Just my 2 cents worth.
    May God bless his soul. RIP Teoh .

  11. aston said,

    Najib is the son of bitch and he is also scrap of the earth!

    He definitely will get the punishment from God!

  12. kok said,

    Malaysians are very naive.

    It is pretty clear that the MACC is operating like the German or Soviet secret police of the ruling party to punish opposition

    members.

    How more transparent can they get? We must be all completely idiots to even discuss MACC.

    Something like the MACC has to be completely independent or not in existence at all.

    This is truly preposterous, as would be the case if the Mafia ran the police force.

  13. ruyom said,

    When you believe in God, you would value life! These Umno idiots claim to have faith but don’t value one’s life, where will they

    end up in after life! God judge!

  14. boscopa said,

    THERE ARE RULES BUT THEY JUST DO NOT FOLLOW IT. THEY CLAIM TO BE RELIGIOUS BUT ONLY TO FISH FOR VOTES. BUT THEY FAIL TO REALISE THAT WHAT IS STATED IN THE HOLY QUR’AN WILL COME TO PASS. AND I QUOTE THE {SURAH 9.34}

    “O you who believe ,many priests and monks cheat the people out of their money, and divert them from the path of God. Those who hoard gold and silver, and spend it not in the cause of God, promise them a painful retribution.”

    NAJIB , THE MACC AND THE PDRM CANNOT OVERLOOK THE PART ABOUT THE “ PAINFULL RETRIBUTION” THAT WILL COME UPON THEM FOR THE MANY DEATHS IN THE CUSTODY OF THE PDRM, ANTUNTOYA AND NOW THE POLITICAL KILLING OR DEATH OF THE LATE TEOH BENG HOCK.

    ON THE OTHER HAND THE HOLY BIBLE{FOR ROMAN CATHOLICS} HAS A CONCLUSION FOR THESE “ BLOOD OF VIPERS”” AS STATED IN { MATTHEW 3.10}

    “The axe is already laid to the roots of the trees: any tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown in the fire.” And further on at 3.12 it is stated: “ He has the winnowing fan in his hand and he will clear out his threshing floor. He will gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn in everlasting fire.”

    BASED ON THE CURRENT POLITICAL SCENARIO AND THE SENTIMENT OF THE PUBLIC WHICH IS BEING “CONFIDENTLY OVERLOOKED” BY NAJIB, IT IS CLEAR AND APPARENT, THAT WITHIN THE NEXT FEW MONTHS THE MOSAIC PARTIES WITHIN THE BN GOVERNMENT, WILL FACE THEIR DEATH, MAYBE, OF NATURAL SELF INFLICTED CAUSES.

    IF THAT PREDICTION, DOES COME TO PASS, THE GREAT MORIBUND APPOINTED LEADER OF THE BN WHO IS NAJIB, WOULD HAVE TO CALL FOR A GENERAL ELECTION OR BE FACED WITH A MOTION OF NO CONFIDENCE BEING CALLED IN PARLIAMENT.

  15. anonymous said,

    So, Malays who are non UMNO supporters and non Barisan Nasional supporters are what then ?

  16. Selangorian said,

    Firstly let me say a Big Thank You to Tricia and all those idealistic, fervent young men and women coming forward to make Malaysia a better place.

    Main points of this case:
    He was not a suspect of a $2400 case.
    He was to be married the next day.
    He knows his wife to be was carrying his first child.

    Everyone believes interrogation methods were brutal way beyond justification for the nature of the case.
    No one believes he jumped.

  17. So many cases has gone “one-sided”…!!
    What makes you think Teoh’s case will be solved…..???????

    Oh…! It will be solve.
    “Sudden Death…!!”

    By the time Royal Commission is set up…., all evidence are gone..!!
    Kugan’s case..????
    Still “fighting” & still “nothing”……….!!!

    How is it that MACC can investigate themselves…???
    Better a criminal investigate themselves & say “I’m innocent….!!!”
    And get away with it yah……….!

    Our police…??
    Hmmm……………….!

  18. Lim Leong Shiau said,

    This is the darkest day in Malaysia. Whatever the good will done by PM Najib since he took office more than 100 days ago had evaporated into thin air. Tun Dr Mahathir commented rightly that one thing he thought Najib had not done well is CORRUPTION ERADIFICATION. I always supported and voted BN before the last March 08 election and voted PKR for the first time then. And like Chua Jui Ming said, this is the tipping point, I will from now on die hard supporter of PKR. I doubt anyone from BN, MCA Gerakan etc can convince many many of us to do otherwise come next election.
    The anger is raging to say the least, though we and many of the silent one do not openly march on the street to show it.But come next election, let us show those people in BN what is RAKYAT power is. Let teoh death not in vain.

  19. mandy said,

    I send my sincere condolences to teoh’s family
    What a sad demise.
    Hope justice will speaks , if not I seriously dont’ know how our future will be in this country.

  20. […] was talking to Tricia Yeoh (whose moving personal account re: Teoh Beng Hock touched me personally as a former employee in the same industry they were both […]

  21. zewt said,

    Some ppl are asking everyone to leave him alone as he is already dead. But I do wonder, if i die an unexplained death… will I want to be left alone? or will i want my loved and trusted ones to get to the bottom of things.

    I guess i can never really answer that.

  22. Bigjoe said,

    At this stage, the only logical thing to do is to kick out UMNO/BN. Any Malaysian that do not work towards that end is A PATHETIC SELF-ABSORBED LOSER.. Period..

  23. Lizzie wong said,

    Dear Tricia,

    He’s been gone for a week, and my heart is still aching…. I think the pain will never go away.

    I really respect and am deeply grateful to the likes of you and Teoh, who out of love for our country has taken time out to serve. Over the past week, I hve been thinking, there need to be more of us to come forward to help in whatever capacities. This is a question I pose to myself, and all those who feel that the PR govt has a need to beef up their resources and machinery, or has room for improvement. While critique of the PR govt may be constructive and bring change, I urge all those who have the means, to consider stepping forward to serve, much like Teoh and Tricia.

    Tunring 1Malaysia into a reality for Anak Bangsa Malaysia is not a job that can be done by just a few or quickly, nor can it be achieved without us taking ownership of the matter.

    Lets work for change, real and lasting change for a better Malaysia.

  24. anonymous angry said,

    It is rather very sad to hear such a news. But rest assured that the final results of Teoh death will be suicide. Furthermore is the people in MACC or better called as Murderer And Criminals Commission qualified for the job as investigators of Anti Corruption.

    No justice in Malaysia unless we Malaysian regardless of any race stand as unity.

  25. doubtful said,

    why was his handphone not returned to him if he was said to be released at 3.45am. if he was released, surely he would have like to contact his family, close friends, his boss YAB Ean Yong, etc.

    also why was he not allowed a lawyer?

    why was the cctv in the interrogation room not available? if there is one. if there is no cctv in the interrogation room…why? they got cctv everywhere in the building except the interrogation room? why?

    why did the police take so long to launch investigations?

    these are all the questions the rci have to find answers for.

  26. doubtful said,

    in memory of teoh beng hock, he should be mentioned as hero of malaysia’s democracy.

  27. Celine said,

    Yup…everyone is sad. But, can we do something which are more practical rather than just simply give commet and opinion here???

  28. truthspeak said,

    http://t4tbh.blogspot.com/

  29. Winston said,

    Things seem to be getting from bad to worse.
    Not too long ago, MPs felt the need for self protection because of treats against them.
    Now, even their assistants can lose their lives in murky circumstances.
    However, let me say that each and everyone working in the PR are worth much more than any of the self-serving creatures in UMNO/BN.
    Working for the PR not be monetary rewarding but what they get from it is the satisfaction of working for the interest of the common people. And JUSTICE!
    They are also brave souls as they have to work against the vast mindless machinery of the ruling party.
    You all have my greatest respect!


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