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