Obviously PM Najib Razak must have sensed the political dangers of allowing the Teoh Beng Hock’s unsolved death to become a weighty millstone around his neck …
… which has been why he subsequently changed the terms of reference of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to include the examining of the cause of Teoh's death, a term of reference which was neon-light conspicious by its very absence in the original terms of reference, alluding to the government deliberate avoidance of it ...
... but which becomes absolutely necessary when the inquest issued an unbelievable open verdict of ‘dunno’. As former MCA president Ong Tee Keat had written in a letter to Malaysiakini (extracts):
The loss of life, especially while in the custody of government enforcement officials, is always a serious matter of public concern.
There cannot be no answers for this particular case.
It's simply not acceptable that one can die in the MACC's custody without knowing what had happened.
Teoh voluntarily stepped into the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)'s office to give a statement as a witness. He failed to come out alive, while under MACC's custody.
Regardless of the facts, the public believes, especially in the light of the tap dancing verdict by the coronial inquest, the harassment of the Thai pathologist Dr Pornthirp, and the initial & limited terms of reference for the RCI, the government is hiding something, protecting someone and avoiding the truth.
The revised and expanded terms of reference has ameliorated this suspicion somewhat, but only slightly.
What is denying the Teoh family full satisfaction has been the composition of the RCI. As The Malaysian Insider pointed out in its editorial today Ensuring justice for Teoh Beng Hock:
All those named to the panel headed by Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong are people who are still serving in the government service. None are from outside the service as has been done in previous royal panels. Justice must be seen to be done. So it is hard to understand why no representative from the Bar Council or respected individuals are on the panel.
In other words, people who could (and the public suspicion is, they would) be beholden to the government, as the magistrate of the inquest, the government pathologists and the police have been suspected by the public to be, rightly or wrongly. And the street axiom about “never hold an inquiry unless you already know the finding” is already running wild among the public. Such is the public distrust of the BN government
The Malaysian Insider’s editorial continues:
Perhaps it’s too early to judge the panel but the collection of judges, former judges and civil servants will have to show that they are interested in giving justice for Teoh Beng Hock, his family, the MACC and the country.
The thing is in the US, Australia and the United Kingdom, the presence of judges or former judges guarantees independence and impartiality. Unfortunately the judiciary in Malaysia has been under a dark cloud since 1988. Thus there is a danger that justice might not be served. This is something for the Najib administration to consider.
The editorial says succinctly what has on our minds.
The Teoh family after consulting 126 NGOs had earlier proposed (a) former national police chief Tun Hanif Omar, (b) former Bar Council president Datuk Ambiga Sreenevasan, (c) former Court of Appeal judge NH Chan, and (d) former Deputy Prime Minister Tun Musa Hitam. But Najib has failed to appoint even one of them to the RCI. Why?
Surely these four are Malaysian luminaries with impeccable credentials and reputations of integrity, with even an UMNO man in Musa Hitam. The only person, also of exceptional integrity and courage, former Justice NH Chan, may perhaps be seen by the Najib administration as being anti-government. If that is the case, kaytee suggests he be replaced by former Justice Gopal Sri Ram, who is also retired.
But the other three are highly respected people and should be included in the RCI. Teoh Lee Lan, the late Beng Hock’s intrepid sister, has called upon Najib to expand the RCI into a commission of nine by including the four outstanding citizens.
If Najib doesn’t, then there is going to be suspicions on the RCI findings, unfair as this may be to the five current appointees. Nosirree, Najib, the millstone isn’t going to go away unless you satisfy the Teoh family’s very reasonable request.