Let not Teoh’s death be in vain

By John Lee (The Malaysian Insider)

Teoh Beng Hock’s death has struck a chord with Malaysians, of all backgrounds and beliefs. The reason is simple: we understand what his death means. Teoh was the first Malaysian to die purely for his politics.

If he had not been working for the Selangor state government, he never would have been taken in for questioning, and never have fallen from that ledge. This political persecution and the institutional disregard for fundamental principles of fairness and freedom is intolerable, and as long as the government continues its cosmetic reforms, instead of addressing the underlying problem, we can only expect things to get worse.

When my friend and then-colleague Nathaniel Tan was arrested by the police for a comment on his blog two years ago, he was incognito for hours. The police initially refused to disclose Nat’s whereabouts to his friends and family. My mother, who grew up under the dictatorial rule of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, was haunted by memories of dissenters simply disappearing, to never be seen alive again. Fortunately, Nat was not treated harshly — his two-week detention sent a chilling enough message already.

Two years later, another young Malaysian, much like Nat, was taken into custody by law enforcers. He was about to start a family and had everything in life to look forward to — and now he is gone. Teoh’s death strikes a chord with us all because his is the first truly political death in Malaysia; he is the first person to have died simply because he wanted to serve his country, and chose to serve it by working for someone besides Barisan Nasional.

Now, whether Teoh was killed or whether it was an accident remains unknown. We can be almost certain he did not commit suicide, because he had absolutely no reason to. If the MACC or anyone else had dirt on him — something so shameful that the only way out would be to kill himself — we would surely have heard of it by now. Sherlock Holmes was fond of saying that once you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

The truth seems to be that Teoh was either killed, or needlessly died in an accident. And what for? For RM2,400 in flags. It’s worth repeating: Teoh died because the MACC needed so badly to know whether RM2,400 was spent illegally.

Everything about this smells wrong.

Read more at: Let not Teoh’s death be in vain