Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 29th July 2009:
Najib – turn the first stone to find out the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s unusual death at MACC by respecting the family’s wish and set up Royal Commission of Inquiry
The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has not turned a stone in the past 13 days although he promised the Teoh Beng Hock family yesterday that “no stone will be left unturned” to find the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death at the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) headquarters in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.
I met the Teoh Beng Hock family members, father Teoh Leong Hwee 62, elder brother Teoh Beng Kee, younger sister Teoh Lee Lan and fiancée Soh Cher Wei at the Shah Alam court complex for Teoh’s inquest this morning, and they told me that the Prime Minister conveyed his condolences and explained the Cabinet decision to set up two separate inquiries, one an inquest by a magistrate into Teoh’s death and the other a Royal Commission of Inquiry into MACC’s investigative techniques.
In the press today, it was reported that Najib told the family that the findings of the inquest would also be considered as input for the royal commission of inquiry and that the two-prong approach would hopefully arrive at the truth in a fair and just manner.
This is putting the cart before the horse, as the international best practice in developed Commonwealth countries dealing with unusual or mysterious deaths which have become subjects of public concern and even international attention is for high-powered and wide-ranging public inquiries to be held and for its findings to be considered as input for inquests , and not the other way round.
A case in point is the Hutton inquiry into Dr. David Kelly’s mysterious death in the United Kingdom in 2003.
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.
Clearly, the Prime Minister who is not a lawyer has been misled by the Attorney-General, Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail, who does not seem to know about international best practices in such cases in other Commonwealth countries.
What about the other Cabinet Ministers who are trained in law – could they be so easily misled on a legal matter by the Attorney-General?
The Teoh family told me at the inquest this morning that they thanked the Prime Minister and appreciate his meeting them at Putrajaya yesterday, and Najib’s reply to the family that if it is not satisfied with the findings of the inquest, he was prepared to consider the family’s request at that time to establish a full and comprehensive Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The Teoh family told me that after full consideration of the explanations by the Prime Minister and taking account the reasons which had been extensively canvassed in the public domain on the respective pros and cons of an inquest and a Royal Commission of Inquiry, the Teoh family maintained their call on the Prime Minister to set up a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death.
I fully agree with the Teoh family. Najib and the Cabinet should abandon “the government knows best” culture and listen to the voices not only of the family but all right-thinking Malaysians who want justice and the truth in a full no-holds-barred inquiry into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s mysterious death at MACC headquarters.
For this reason, Najib and the Cabinet should review its decision last Wednesday, suspend the inquest proceedings and immediately establish a full Royal Commission of Inquiry headed by an eminent and credible Chairman to inquire into the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death.
Najib assured the Teoh family that “No stone will be left unturned” in finding out the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death at the MACC headquarters. Up to now, Najib has not turned a single stone as in the ordinary circumstances, an inquest would have been held into a mysterious death as required by law even without Cabinet decision. The Cabinet has done nothing which the law had not provided for the normal course of events.
Let Najib “turn the first stone” to find out the causes and circumstances of Teoh’s death by setting up a Royal Commission of Inquiry latest at the next Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, August 5,2009. Are MCA Ministers led by Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, Gerakan President Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, MIC, SUPP and right-thinking Umno Ministers prepared to stand up and be counted on this issue?
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor