Updated 1.50pm, 18 July 2009
KUALA LUMPUR, 17 July 2009: Gerakan president Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon has called for the setting up of an independent body to facilitate investigation into the death of Selangor state executive councillor’s aide Teoh Beng Hock yesterday.
Koh, who was shocked and disturbed over the incident, said there must be a thorough investigation because it occurred in the vicinity of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC)’s premises.
“It will be good if there can be an independent body or individuals invited to view the investigation of the case to avoid any negative image [of] the MACC,” he told reporters after closing the Fourth Conference on Asean-China People-To-People Friendship Organisations here today.
Koh, who is Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, said the people would want to know what actually happened and how it could have happened.
“The MACC itself and also the investigation must come [clean] to avoid any negative speculation or perception. This is important. There should be no doubt left in the minds of the people that there is any intention to cover up,” he said.
Teoh, 30, was found dead on the roof of the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam, where the Selangor MACC office is located nine floors above.
Teoh, the special assistant to state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was assisting in the MACC’s investigation into allegations of misappropriation of state allocations.
Yong was among seven state assemblypersons and executive councillors being investigated by the MACC, which raided his office at the state secretariat here on 15 July.
Later, in a statement, Koh said he met Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Home Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein separately this afternoon to convey his deep concern about Teoh’s sudden death.
He said he suggested to Muhyiddin that an independent panel be set up and was told that consideration would be made after the outcome of the preliminary probe by the police.
He said he also conveyed to both leaders the strong negative reaction and perception of the public in the aftermath of this case.
On behalf of Gerakan, Koh conveyed his condolences and sympathies to Teoh’s family for the sudden loss of their loved one.
Meanwhile, Transparency International-Malaysia (TI-M), expressing shock and concern over Teoh’s death, also hope that an independent enquiry would be set up not just on the death, but also on how the MACC discharges its duties.
“While the circumstances pertaining to his death are still unknown, we hope that both the Royal Malaysia Police and the MACC will investigate his death in a professional and independent manner without fear or favour and with full transparency, to get to the truth,” it said in a statement.
This, it said, would help to reverse the deteriorating trend in perception among the people and the international business community of these two institutions in the country.
In PENANG, MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai urged the MACC to clarify the situation to avoid public speculation on Teoh’s death.
“The MCA is very saddened by the incident and we urge the MACC and the police to conduct a thorough investigation and announce the outcome to the public,” he said.
He said the MACC had a lot of explaining to do, in particular on why the interrogation was done outside work hours.
It must act swiftly to explain the incident or risk of losing its credibility among the people, he added.
Meanwhile, Wanita MCA chairperson Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said the government should also consider setting up a royal commission to investigate Teoh’s death and release the findings of the inquiry to the public.
The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) urged the MACC and other enforcement agencies to ensure that human rights standards are maintained and practised at all times, including in the course of interrogating witnesses and suspects.
Its vice-chairperson, Tan Sri Simon Sipaun, said Suhakam had continuously recommended that the government sign or accede to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment of Punishment to show its commitment to addressing problems related to such acts.
He said in a statement that Suhakam had recorded two complaints against MACC officers for allegedly using force in conducting investigations and the matter had been referred to the police for investigation.
Suhakam would carry out an independent investigation into yesterday’s incident and would decide at its next monthly meeting whether a public inquiry should be carried out. — Bernama