The Malaysian Insider - Teoh’s family boycotts RCI.
What can I say for the prestige and various expected values of a RCI when the Teoh family, who had pushed so hard for its formation, now withdraws in protest at the decision of the Chairperson to allow officers from the AG’s Office to serve as conducting officers?
The AG has recently lodged an appeal against the coronial inquest's open verdict, asserting that Teoh Beng Hock's death was suicide. Yet the RCI has confounded us by accepting officers from the AG's Office, an interested party in the cause of Teoh's death, as conducting officers for the inquiry into Teoh's still unexplained death.
The conflict of interest is so bloody obvious that I am amazed (on second thoughts, maybe not) that regardless of the personal integrity of those officers from the AG's Office, surely James Foong, the Chair of the RCI, would have heard of that old adage “Justice must not only be done but be seen to be done”, but yet has not only persisted in using members of the AG's staff but also rejected the Teoh family's appeal on this very grave issue.
Alas, so in his inexplicable decision, justice now won't be seen to be done, as it ought to be. His decision to disregard the Teoh family’s concerns over the obvious, glaring and flagrant ‘conflict of interest’ flies in the face of convention, perceptions of fairness and raises deep concerns about the RCI itself.
This regrettably comes after the Teoh family’s unsuccessful appeal for the RCI to include 4 additional personalities of the highest caliber and integrity. No, they didn’t ask for Lim Kit Siang or kaytee. In an earlier post RCI for Teoh BH's death - Najib fighting against public perception I wrote:
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.
Most right thinking people would understand and support fully the decision of the Teoh family to withdraw from participating in the RCI.
Besides, as I also wrote in the same post, quoting The Malaysian Insider’s editorial 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 said exactly what has been on our minds.
Today The Malaysian Insider’s editorial Seeing justice done for Teoh Beng Hock ripostes succinctly to James Foong’s pompous statement to the Teoh family on Monday when he plain refused their appeal to change conducting officers: “Do not forget this is far bigger and wider in scope than just you and your family. The whole nation wants the truth. This inquiry is not just to appease you.”
The editorial stated: “True. This inquiry is not just to appease the family or to pay lip service to the pursuit of justice. It is more than that. It is about a country taking all the necessary steps to ensure no one ever goes in for questioning alive and leaves dead again.”
That's precisely what Ong Tee Keat (former MCA president) wrote in a letter to Malaysiakini, stating:
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.
And The Malaysian Insider concluded that: “The Teohs walked out today because they are not sure if justice will be served For Teoh Beng Hock and for Malaysia.”
Indeed and Amin to that.