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Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Friday, 17th July 2009: 

Teoh Beng Hock’s first death in MACC custody defining test for MACC and Najib’s commitment to accountability, transparency and rule of law

The first death in Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) custody, Teoh Beng Hock, political secretary to DAP Selangor State Exco and Seri Kembangan Assemblyman, Ean Yong Hian Wah, is the defining test for the MACC as to its independence and professionalism as well as for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s commitment to accountability, transparency and the rule of law.

The heartless, cruel and insensitive statement by the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz on Teoh’s death has aggravated the outrage of ordinary Malaysians regardless of race and religion demanding full accountability and transparency as to how an idealistic political activist who is to register his civil marriage the next day could take his own life after oppressive overnight questioning allegedly from 6 pm to 4 am by the MACC as a witness and not as an accused!

Nazri said he was informed by the MACC that Teoh was released earlier yesterday morning, and he should have gone home instead and asked: “How would we know that he would jump out of the building”?

He said Pakatan Rakyat should not blame MACC for Teoh’s death.

My three responses are:

  • Firstly, how did Nazri know that Teoh “jumped out” of the 14th floor of the building?

  • Secondly, it is not just Pakatan Rakyat but the overwhelming majority of Malaysians who blame MACC for Teoh’s death for the simple reason that Teoh was in the custody and premises of MACC when he plunged to his death from the 14th storey MACC office, and after being subjected to an unusual and oppressive overnight interrogation by MACC from 6 pm to 4 am when he was not a suspect but only a witness;

  • Thirdly, if MACC is not to be blamed for Teoh’s death, is the blame to be directed to Nazri as the Minister responsible for MACC or to Prime Minister Najib himself?

As I told the Selangor MACC Director Ja’afar bin Mahad this morning, unless MACC can come out with a convincing and satisfactory explanation for Teoh’s death, MACC’s present story disclaiming responsibility does not sell and public perception throughout the country is that this is the first case of MACC custody death, which will do irreparable damage to what is already a very poor image of MACC after six months of operation.

I am very disappointed by the meeting at MACC Shah Alam headquarters this morning between Pakatan Rakyat leaders, namely Parliamentary Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, Penang Chief Minister, Lim Guan Eng, Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and myself with Ja’afar.

Ja’afar said he was instructed not to say anything as Teoh’s death is under police investigations.

It is most regrettable that MACC Deputy Commissioner Datuk Abu Kassim Mohammad was not present at the meeting in Shah Alam although I had fixed the appointment with him yesterday over phone. This is blatant irresponsibility coming from the No. 2 in MACC.

Parliament had set up the MACC to wipe out the corrupt and not to murder any Malaysian – and the onus is on MACC to prove that it has not deviated from the parliamentary and national objectives of the MACC to spearhead the war against corruption instead of its declaring war against the Pakatan Rakyat as the catspaw of UMNO/Barisan Nasional.

When the MACC Bill was introduced in Parliament last December, Abu Kassim said that under the new legislation, five bodies will closely watch over the MACC to ensure its transparency and integrity.

These five bodies are: Anti-Corruption Advisory Board; Special Committee on Corruption; Operations Review Panel; Corruption Prevention and Consultative Panel; and a Complaints Committee.

Abu Kassim publicly declared at the time that with these five scrutinizing bodies, the MACC would not be accused of being the “lapdog” of the government as its predecessor the Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) had been accused in the past.

But this has proved to be a empty rhetoric, as half a year after its establishment, MACC has proven to be even worse than ACA in being the “lapdog” of the Barisan Nasional government especially in the blatant manner it has declared war on the Pakatan Rakyat, particularly in Selangor!

The five MACC scrutinizing bodies, particularly the Anti-Corruption Advisory Board and Special Committee on Corruption should just disband if they are totally impotent to check the MACC deviations and abuses of power so early in its establishment.

Najib has just completed his First Hundred Days with a redound in his popularity rating, but he is heading for the doldrums if he condones any cover-up in the first death in MACC custody in the case of Teoh.

The first thing Najib should do on his return from his trip overseas for the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) meeting is to announce the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry to conduct a full public inquiry to get to the bottom of Teoh’s extraordinary plunge to death from the 14th floor-MACC Building in Shah Alam yesterday.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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