Wednesday, February 16, 2011

RCI = Regrettable Conflict of Interest?

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.


  1. isnt it the same foong who rendered some of the inexplicable decisions in the Perak putsch. Why does Najib want a sitting Federal Court to chair the RCI and dilute whatever findings that will come out? is there soemthing to hide really?

  2. Ktemoc,
    # It's already a foregone conclusion. 3 months to complete to whole findings. The inquest took 15 months to complete with an open verdict
    # While "Rome is on fire", folks like you still hounding the opposition....Hahaha....It's like holding Churchill responsible to sending Prince of Wales & Repulse to abyss....Giving him the no confidence vote in parliament....Aiyaa....When are you gonna set your priorities
    # Simple question....Why Zaid party was approved within one month.
    # Smell a rat....PSM took 10 yrs to approve....MDC also not approved....Even Pakatan Rakyat need to change the name to Pakatan Rakyat Malaysia
    # Eat this....The link that MCLM campaign in Tenang...From RPK himself

  3. Again the Teoh family has been made use of by politicians of interest.
    Can't they just leave the the family alone to undergo the healing process.
    From day one, they have been subjected to unnecessary provocations.
    You think an average Malaysian family will do what they have done if not for the prodding of some politicians.

  4. Najib once said he wanted to win Selangor back at any cost...and the MACC goons obliged and went to town with the TBH interrogation,resulting in the young man's untimely demise.
    It has been a web of deceit and cover-ups since!Sadly,can't see this
    RCI coming out with the truth,especially when you know who's behind it all in the first place.

  5. My dear Buttercup, firstly, if you have been following the case, you'd know that TBH's sister Lee Lan has been the persevering one, so there's no need for any politician to egg her on. It's only natural that she and her family just want to know how their brother/son/husband could die in a MACC building where he went to provide witness information, on the very evening before his wedding day, yet without a satisfactory explanation by/from an official body.

    Secondly, TBH was a staff of a DAP ADUN. He was hauled in by the MACC precisely because of his political association. So it's all political right from before and after his mysterious death. Obviously it's a political case involving a DAP man, so why blame the DAP for pursuing this. They need to resolve this to its just conclusion, as they don't want another DAP (or PSM or PKR or PAS) person to go into a police station or MACC building and not come out alive.

    Thirdly, an independent pathologist raised questions about injuries to TBH prior to his death. Even the MACC hired pathologist didn't dare come out 100% to refute that - he tap danced around the cause.

    Fourthly, apart from the points many (including The Malaysian Insider) have raised questions about Foong and members of the RCI being still-serving government officers (unprecedented in the composition of a RCI) and Foong's insistent decision to keep the AG's staff as conducting officers for the RCI, in what is now unfortunately perceived as an undeniable & blatantly condoned case of 'conflict of interest' (and perception in justice is everything), the RCI has glaringly omitted from the list of witnesses/participants from the inquiry the Thai pathologist, Dr Ponthirp. What would we read into this obvious and very disappointing omission? Can anyone blame us if we suspect the RCI doesn't want her postmortem evidence.

    The sad part is that, right from your "Day One", the authorities and all its agencies have been protecting MACC, and we really need to ask what is there to hide? The government hasn't given a fig about justice or the interests of the Teoh family; thus the suspicion is that it's more about 'jaga member kita'. And we can only guess that from the unprecedented composition of the RCI and the latter's actions thus far, the government still doesn't give a fig.

  6. Taht old hag Hilary Clinton recently praised Najibistan as a "model nation". Model for killing opposition members?

  7. My dear dear pengyu, Looes ;-)

    Thank you for the RPK link, but really, it still doesn’t mean MCLM members were actually down there in Tenang during the campaign – stated ‘intent’ is one thing, actual ‘practice’ is another. However, I won’t waste time arguing on this and just accept your words for it. After all, I did mention that MCLM didn’t promise it can deliver the rural (or FELDA) votes. MCLM is about ensuring PKR has the correct quality people, and not you-know-whose cronies, as candidates for the next election.

    ROS is not renowned for its impartiality so what you’ve remarked about PSM vs KITA case is not incorrect. However, we also need to be mindful that because of Malaysia’s historical experience with communist insurrection and the intrinsic conservative (or right wing) attitude of the Malay heartland, it’s very difficult for a left wing socialist political party like PSM to be registered. There has also been suspicion that the authorities aren’t keen on any left wing political party wading into the cheap labour market to “give ideas” and political representation to plantation workers about their rights.

    Of course Najib is hopeful that KITA will siphon off some support from PKR. Divide and rule.

    But all these don’t mean KITA is linked with UMNO. We cannot go around accusing people (like me wakakaka) of being pro BN because we don’t support Anwar Ibrahim ;-) yes, I had been variously accused of being a BN cybertrooper or a paid MCA man many times before – wish I had seen some of those MCA or UMNO’s money wakakaka.

    Lastly, on your “while Rome is burning” it’s a bit pompous to equate AI with Churchill, and where is a WWII-like scenario now? AI sure ain’t no Churchill, and believe me that’s an indirect compliment because I see Churchill as a colonial imperialist who was intolerant of non Anglo Saxon colonials or democracy for “those natives”. He said he had “not become the King’s First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire”. By Jove old boy, he wasn't a pleasant man as far as we Asians (or Africans) were/are concerned.

    But more importantly, it doesn’t mean that just because we want to replace BN via a democratic process (no more shameful 916 or chasing BN MPs to Taiwan, please), we the voters are prepared to give AI an open cheque.

    While there are good people in PKR, I don’t see any difference thus far between AI (or his blue eyed boy) and Najib. I'm not going to jump from the pan into the fire blindly.

    Yes, AI has some use, mainly in his ability to glue the Pakatan together, but as a self-claimed political reformer, he has yet to prove himself.

  8. Anon of 8:15 AM, February 17, 2011, Hilary Clinton just warned Iran about human rights and not to switch off the Internet in Iran. Why doesn't she warn Israel about human rights and not to switch off (whenever they feel like it) electricity to Palestine or closing Palestinian access to roads to markets to sell their perishable farm products, or preventing Gaza-an fishermen from going out to sea.

    Those Americans say things for their own interests.

  9. Shouldn't we give the RCI a chance to start working, instead of boycotting it from the outset?
    I'm definitely one of those very suspicious of the MACC and AG's role in this whole sad case, but I think we should let the RCI do its job.
    If James Foong tries to run a dog-and-pony show with the RCI , he'll be facing the full blast of criticism from the public.

  10. Ktemoc,
    # The proof that MCLM went out all to support cikgu Mala#
    # I respected Zorro & gang but however simple question to MCLM, what's the strategy to win over rural votes?#
    Isa Samad is rotten to heaven & yet he's elected....Get my drift
    # If you say PSM is affiliated with the far left, what about Malaysian Dayak Congress? Splitted from PBDS....Another PBDS splitted party is PRS
    # Are you saying that Daniel Tajem now back to SNAP, a communist?

  11. Ktemoc,
    # The life of David Owen, leader of SDP. Hehe, don't expect you to understand british politics....You can ask RPK since he's a LDP member....Most SDP merged with Liberal Party to become LDP while Owen continues to lead remnant of SDP
    # Sound like Zaid Ibrahim of Kita, don't you think....SDP nearly got rid of Margaret Thatcher if not because of Falkland War. He left Labour because of Labour going to far left & no one member one vote policy
    # Some of the youtube link on David Owen....Splitting Image actually...Not the actual portrayal
    # - That's what happen if Zaid were elected in Parliament
    # Ok lah, you can always resemble Anwar as PKR Neil Kinnock
    # I got to agree with you that I would be extremely dreadful if Azmin resembles Tony Blair

  12. The inaugural of SDP in UK. Shirley William even saying that SDP would win the majority & form the government. Pretty electrifying.....Don't you think Zaid Ibrahim resembles David Owen

  13. Mr KTemoc
    It dawns upon me that the Teoh family and supporters have set their mind on what the finding or verdict shoud be,that SPRM / Govt/ BN/ UMNO are the killers of the late Teoh Beng Hock. I have thought of saying.../SPRM/...are responsible for his death, but that would not even meet the least desired outcome by Teoh's family and friends.
    Pray, if you may, Mr KTemoc that this current issue would not be reduced to a protracted antagonism between the Chinese ( Teoh's family and friends) and the Malays ( the establishment)

  14. JohorMali,
    # Oh remember the Amirulrashid case.....Melayu kah atau dan lain lain

  15. Looes74
    Since you mentioned Aminulrashid's case, let's wait for feb 28 when it will be decided whether the policeman has to enter his defence.
    And we will see the reaction of the family.
    But knowing Malays, we accept things as takdir or fated.What's the point of fighting really when it can never bring your son back.
    We just pray a lot thathe will be received in heaven.
    Let's flashback to the day of the murder, in the confusion and with PKR people prodding the family, the mum and Amin's siblings were also very angry.
    But later cooler heads prevail. They patiently waited for the court case.
    That is why I said let the family get over their grieving. You pay your condolences. But shut up. Don't goad them into suing this people and that.
    In Teoh's case, it is very clear from day one that people are gunning for the Malay establishemt like the Govt, police and MACC.
    (If you noticed the Chinese and the Malays are not found of suing or court pergi la anai).
    Ok inqest not enough. Now it's inquiry and I noticed it's a good thing there's no Malay members in that commission.
    Let the commission do the job. They are calling five MACC officials to testify. They are also calling the two Forensic experts.
    Wait for the outcome. Don't pre-empt anything.
    If it's unsatisfactory verdict, accept it. Move on. Too much tax-payers money are being used on the case.
    And what happened to the corruption case. I missed it because it's being overtaken by Teoh's death publicity.

  16. My dear Buttercup, I am disappointed you’ve raised the withdrawal of the Teoh family’s participation from the RCI as one instigated by ”people […] gunning for the Malay establishment like the Govt, police and MACC.”

    I was under the impression that these are Malaysian establishments, but you confirmed what Utusan has been promoting, for Malays to “protect” the Malay institutions like the police, MACC, public service, etc, presumably regardless of whatever wrong they have done, like in the unexplained deaths of TBH, Kugan, Udayappan, etc and the implausible reasons the authorities have come up with. Jaga member kita.

    Incidentally, since you raised it, the members of the RCI are James Foong, Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, T Selventhiranathan, Dr Bhupinder Singh and Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom. The conducting officers are Amarjeet and deputy public prosecutors Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa, all from AG’s department, with Saripuddin Kasim, the DG of legal affairs in the Prime Minister's department, as the RCI secretary.

    When a person died mysteriously in the care of the MACC without a satisfactory finding (pathologists disagreed), you may fall back on takbir but for many people, there must be discernible justice.

    Justice is not just about punishing people who have committed criminal acts though there is that too. The far more important objectives for a civilised society are to ensure:

    (a) the punishment is not just the Israelite-originated draconian and punitive “eye for an eye” but serves usefully as a deterrent (warning) so that criminals or wannabe criminals would think twice because of the legal consequences of committing crimes.
    (b) we may learn lessons from the tragedy and not allow such events to recur. For example, if the RCI believes that TBH committed suicide, as the AG and MACC are punishing for, then a RCI recommendation may well be for all windows in MACC windows to have iron grills installed, or for a witness to be constantly under escort while he/she is in the MACC building.

    But a justice system or process may only be seen to have objectively achieved these aims if the officers conducting the investigation, assessment, decisions, and making the recommendations are not only impartial but seen to be so.

    We all know and the AG hasn’t denied it, that he and the MACC are now appealing to a court to overturn the coronial inquest verdict from ‘open’ to ‘suicide’. By having officers from the AG’s staff appointed as conducting officers for the RCI, there is an obvious case of ‘conflict of interest’. These officers would be under unfair pressure to act impartially as they know what their boss wants. It would be enormously unfair to them.

    Foong in insisting on using them despite all these obvious factors has acted against convention and perception of fairness. There is an old adage that “Justice must not only be done but be SEEN to be done.” No matter how fair the RCI is, there will be a large sector of Malaysians who won’t believe in that. So the question is why has Foong rejected an appeal from the Teoh family to replace the officers? He hasn't provided any good reason.

    Why has the RCI omitted Dr Pornthip from the list of witnesses? Is it because she is the only one (not government employed or hired) that has raised frightening questions on Teoh’s last moments while in the MACC building? Again, Foong has not provided any reason, other than to say if the RCI needs her, they'll call her. "If they need her" can also mean "they may not need her". This is bullshit!

    Then, why has Najib not consider the Teoh’s family’s recommendation to include 4 outstanding Malaysians to the RCI, namely: Tun Hanif Omar, Ambiga Sreenevasan, judge NH Chan, and former Deputy PM Tun Musa Hitam.

    Since you raised the race issue, I like to point out the 4 recommended by the Teoh family, after consultations with 126 NGOs, comprise 2 Malays, 1 Indian and 1 Chinese. One of them is an UMNO person. Why not these experienced people of high integrity and standing?

  17. Amendment to my comment above: I've just read The Malaysian Insider which says the RCI will now call Dr Pornthip and Dr Vanezis as witnesses - why not earlier?

    But the Selangor government has withdrawn from participating in the RCI. Its lawyer Malik Imtiaz said it has done so because the AG is deliberately sabotaging the RCI with his appeal to the courts to have the Inquest's verdict changed to one of suicide.

  18. Ktemoc,
    Najib has signed the death warrant on BN. Lest he thinks that most voters are stupid

    Just watch splitting image 2.20 minutes.......One Tory member says that he can't believe people are so stupid.....One visit proves so.....That includes Buttercup

    Do watch

  19. Dear KT

    Didn't I say the Commission will call 5 MACC officials to testify and also the two forensic experts.
    The Teoh family should just follow the proceedings until it's over.
    After all the Commission is set up to respect their wishes. Hey, the Government is kind enough to listen to them!
    I don't intend to argue with you on this. You have your views, I have mine. And I respect you.
    But I still feel an average Malaysian family will not be so pressuring if not for the prodding of the opposition.
    I believe Najib's statement today that the issue will be purposely dragged on by the opposition until the G.E.
    Yes, the Teoh's family have been used for political mileage. Really sorry for them.
    If suicide is the verdict, I will be very sorry for it will be another political tool to be capitalised to the hilt.

  20. I have forgotten to insert this