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Press Statement by Karpal Singh in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday, 2nd January 2010:

Pornthip intimidated - contempt of court by MACC officer

The report lodged by the MACC against Thai pathologist, Pornthip Rajanasunan, based only on suspicion that the pathologist had leaked information relating to the second post-morterm report conducted on the body of Teoh Beng Hock on 22nd November, 2009 is a matter of serious proportions. Firstly, the MACC should not lodge reports based merely on suspicion. A police report should only be made when there is a definite factual matrix for the necessity to do so. Otherwise, the MACC should be prepared for the consequences in the nature of prosecution for lodging a false report. Secondly, the report made by the MACC against the pathologist could be taken as an attempt to intimidate her as she has yet to complete giving evidence in court. It must be remembered that we are dealing with a foreign witness and every effort should be made that our legal and judicial systems ensure a witness is free of any threat from any quarter howsoever high when giving evidence in court. In a way, what has transpired is putting these systems on trial. The Teoh Beng Hock inquest has taken on an international spotlight.

Likewise, the report lodged against Suara Keadilan cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, amount to sedition. I cannot see how the publication by Suara Keadilan comes within the parameters and ambit of the Sedition Act, 1948.

If the MACC has been advised that the publication by Suara Keadilan is sub-judice, the proper approach would have been to direct Tan Hock Chuan, who is acting on a fiat issued by the Attorney-General in relation to the inquest over Teoh Beng Hock’s death, to bring up the matter before the coroner when the inquest resumes on 7th January, 2010 to enable the coroner, after hearing submissions from all parties concerned, to determine whether there has been contempt of his court. The coroner alone, and no one else, has the jurisdiction and power to commit or fine whoever has committed contempt. That recourse was easily available to the MACC instead of lodging police reports. To cite someone for contempt of court on the ground of what has been uttered is sub-judice, does not require a police investigation.

In my view, intimidation of the Thai pathologist in the form of the lodging of the police report based on suspicion, and nothing else, amounts to contempt of court by the MACC officer concerned. I call upon the coroner to pull up this officer for the purpose of directing him to show cause why he should not be cited for contempt. It goes without saying that the inquest should proceed to its logical end without any witness appearing in court being subjected to any form of intimidation or threat.

I must make it clear, contempt of court is an offence of a criminal character punishment for which includes imprisonment. In view of its seriousness, contempt of court is provided for in the Subordinate Courts Act, 1948, the Rules of the High Court, 1980 and under Article 126 of the Federal Constitution which states,

“The Federal Court, the Court of Appeal or the High Court shall have power to punish any contempt of itself.”

* Karpal Singh, DAP National Chairman & MP for Bukit Gelugor



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