Media Statement (3) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Tuesday, 4th August 2009:
Is Najib giving an undertaking that if inquest into causes and circumstances of Teoh Beng Hock’s mysterious death at MACC is unsatisfactory to Teoh family, the Royal Commission of Inquiry will be empowered to probe into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death?
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is reported as saying in Pekan today that the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) set up by the government following the mysterious death of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock will take into account the findings of the n ongoing magistrate’s inquest.
He explained to reporters that the RCI’s full scope, which includes looking into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation procedures, is pending the completion of the inquest into the death of Teoh.
“We have to go through the inquest first which will determine the cause of (Teoh’s) death.”
Najib said the RCI, which will look into the procedures of the MACC, would also take into account the findings of the inquest.
“The sequence has to be right,” he said.
I do not know what is this “sequence” that Najib is talking about as he seems to be have been given the wrong advice a second time by the Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who had earlier given the Prime Minister and the Cabinet the wrong advice that there could not be a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death when under the law there has to be an inquest.
Professor Dr. Shad Faruqi of the of the Faculty of Law, UiTM in his article in the Star “Ferreting out the Facts” (29th July 2009) had dismissed Gani’s contention that a Royal Commission of Inquiry could not be established pending an inquest as “not convincing”.
In fact, Shad Faruqi supported the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry, stressing that “On the peculiar facts of this case, a Commission would have been most appropriate because of the legitimate expectations of the people created by assurances and proposals from many top politicians”.
As Shad Faruqi appreciated, “What is crucial is that justice must not only be done but must be seen to be done. Public skepticism is acute because despite considerable passage of time, no decisive evidence seems to have emerged”.
The Attorney-General should w have briefed Najib by now of the case of the mysterious death of Dr. David Kelly in the United Kingdom in 2003 which caused a nation-wide uproar.
Kelly, a Ministry of Defence scientist, was found dead after appearing before a parliamentary committee investigating the political scandal of the UK war against Iraq as he was accused of leaking sensitive information to the British Broadcasting Corporation.
A judicial inquiry headed by a judge, Justice Hutton was established to inquire into the causes and circumstances of Kelly’s death.
The inquest into Kelly’s death by the Oxfordshire Coroner was adjourned while the inquiry proceeded. The inquiry reported on 28th January 2004 and the Oxfordshire Coroner announced in March 2004 that the inquest would not be reconvened.
There have been other cases of mysterious deaths which evoked great public concern where inquests into the deaths concerned were stood down until the outcome of high-level independent inquiries, after which the coroners concerned would decide whether to continue or terminate inquest proceedings.
So when Najib spoke about getting the “sequence right”, he should have first set up the RCI with expanded scope to inquire into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death, with the inquest standing down its inquiry until the outcome of the RCI.
In any event, what is Najib really trying to say?
Is Najib giving an undertaking that if the inquest into causes and circumstances of Teoh Beng Hock’s mysterious death is unsatisfactory to family members, the Royal Commission of Inquiry will be empowered to probe into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death?
This is in fact Najib’s assurance to the Teoh’s family members, his father, mother, elder brother, sisters and fiancée when they met in Putrajaya last Tuesday in response to the query by the family whether they could ask for a RCI into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death if they are not satisfied with the inquest findings.
If this is Najib’s position, then let him state it clearly and unequivocally and let the Cabinet tomorrow take and make a formal decision on it after the meeting.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor