Aide’s death a tragedy for the entire nation

There is need to find out for certain what happened in the case of Teoh Beng Hock and to punish those who are responsible.


I HOPE there will be an independent Royal Commission of Inquiry formed to investigate the tragic death of Teoh Beng Hock. Anything less will simply not satisfy our demand for the truth.

Unfortunately for the nation, faith in the legal system of this country is very low. Therefore, for the sake of answering the many questions surrounding this young man’s death, a body which is outside the system and is trusted to be impartial must be created and left alone to do its job.

There is absolutely no point in telling the people to place their trust in the police investigation. In high profile political cases like these, the police are, rightly so, seen as little more than the servant not of the people but of the government of the day.

The MACC interrogated this young man for hours. He was not even a suspect, merely a witness. Yet they kept him in custody into the early hours of the morning.

This may appear to be a determination to do one’s duty to the utmost (after all corruption is corruption even if it involves RM10).

But the issue is not simply about fighting corruption, it is about double standards.

The victim was a worker for the Selangor Pakatan government. Specifically, he was working for a DAP member of the state legislative body.

There are huge cases of supposed corruption in Selangor, yet, the MACC or its previous incarnation the ACA has not tackled these cases with even the slightest bit of enthusiasm as they have with the DAP state legislators accused of wrong doing.

Why is this so? It is because this is a political case and if Teoh had not been working for who he did, he would not have been in that building at all.

It is, however, not a racial case. At the small vigil held at the MACC building the day Teoh died, and at the Kelana Jaya rally, not once did anyone mention race.

Not one person accused the MACC of being Malay bigots. It was not mentioned by the speakers or even people in the crowd.

People were angry, yes, but they were angry over the needless death of a young Malaysian man, not a young ethnic Chinese man.

They were angry at what they think was the abuse of power by MACC officers, not the abuse of power by Malay officers.

And here you have some saying that the outrage felt by the people is racially based and an attempt to topple a Malay institution.

Malay institution? The MACC stands for Malaysian Anti-Corrup-tion Commission, not Malay Anti-Corruption Commission. Either these people are too moronic to see the difference, or they are up to something more insidious.

By painting this as a race issue instead of what it truly is, a human rights and democracy issue, they seek to divert attention from the crux of the matter.

It is also possible that they truly believe that government institutions like the MACC are supposed to be Malay institutions, in which case they show themselves to be the utter racists that they are and, if this is so, they should be treated with nothing but the utmost contempt.

A young man with his entire future ahead of him died needlessly last week. He leaves behind a grieving family, a devastated fiancée and an unborn child who will grow up without a father.

On the most basic compassionate level, the need to find out for certain what happened and to punish those who are responsible is imperative.

But the death of Teoh Beng Hock is more than just about the death of one man. It is about the future of democracy in this nation.

At a time when young men and women feel the change in the air, when they feel a difference can finally come and they seek to do nothing more than serve the public in thankless tasks, they see that this desire to do good can be rewarded with death. What does this bode for the future?

Teoh’s story is a tragedy for those who loved him and those who knew him.

It is also, sadly, a tragedy for the entire nation; a tragedy made all the worse if we do not go on striving for the values and ideals that this young man obviously believed in.

The creation of an independent investigative body is necessary.

May you rest in peace, Beng Hock.

Dr Azmi Sharom is a law teacher.

Editor’s note: The article was written before the Cabinet agreed yesterday to set up an inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock as well as a Royal Commission of Inquiry to look into the interrogation methods used by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission.