Updated 7:41pm on 22 July 2009
PUTRAJAYA, 22 July 2009: A royal commission is to be set up to scrutinise the mode of questioning employed by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to determine whether human rights have been violated during the questioning of a Selangor political aide who was found dead subsequently.
The cabinet, at its meeting today, also decided that an inquest be held next week to determine the cause of death of the political aide, Teoh Beng Hock, whose body was found on Thursday on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, which houses the MACC office on the 14th floor.
These details were announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, who also said that the Home Ministry and the police had been instructed to complete investigations into the case as soon as possible, and that a report on the matter would be made public.
The death of Teoh, 30, who was the political aide to Selangor New Village Development and Illegal Factory Taskforce Committee chairperson Ean Yong Hian Wah, raised public outcry after he was found dead on the roof of the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam on Thursday, following questioning as a witness by the MACC over alleged misuse of funds by Pakatan Rakyat Selangor state executive councillors.
Najib told reporters that the cabinet decisions were prompted by the desire to conduct a thorough investigation to find out the cause of the incident.
“I, just like the other members of the cabinet, also want to know the actual cause of Teoh’s death.
“As such, I hope that all quarters will exercise patience and not make statements which confuse the people and raise wrong perceptions, or politicise the issue,” he said.
Najib extended his condolences to Teoh’s family and said the cabinet decisions reflected the government’s determination and commitment to find out the cause of the incident so that Teoh’s family and the people would know what actually happened.
He said the government would do whatever was necessary to find out the truth and that he himself would convey the investigation’s outcome to Teoh’s family.
“We want to establish the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth in this case. And the process of investigation will be forthright and transparent,” he said.
Dismissing suggestions that the government’s decisions were due to pressure from certain parties, Najib said it was important to establish the truth and to ensure “public faith and confidence in these important institutions in this country”.
On the time frame for the police to come up with their findings, he said he knew that the police could wrap up investigations very soon. He added that there was no time frame for the (inquest to be led by a) magistrate because it was up to the magistrate to decide.
He also said that it was up to the courts to decide who should be the magistrate to conduct the inquest.
“But we are taking steps to notify the courts of the need to convene the inquest. So, I expect the inquest to start some time next week,” he said.
Najib said the royal commission would be established quite soon and the members would be announced soon after.
Asked whether the establishment of the royal commission was to review the MACC’s standard operating procedure (SOP), Najib said: “I’m not saying it is to be reviewed but to be looked into by the royal commission.”
On reports that the MACC had been instructed to cease its own investigations, he said such reports were wrong and that there should not be any prejudice in relation to the case.
“We cannot have any prejudice at this point. Let’s wait for the outcome of the investigations,” he said.
Asked whether the MACC officers involved in the questioning of Teoh had been suspended, Najib said: “They have not been suspended but the lead investigator has been reassigned to the headquarters.”
On whether the MACC investigation of Pakatan Rakyat state executive councillors would continue, he said: “That is a separate case. Any wrongdoing will be investigated by the MACC, and we have not made any decision to suspend the investigation,” he said. — Bernama