AG defends Cabinet’s decision on inquest into MACC death

(My Sinchew) – KUALA LUMPUR:An inquiry by a Magistrate into the cause of death of Teoh Beng Hock under the Criminal Procedure Code (CPC) is the adequate recourse and appropriate venue for cases of this nature, the Attorney-General (AG) said Friday.

Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail said with the CPC being a specific legislation that made provisions for a death inquiry, it was only proper that a Court of law determined the cause of death and related matters instead of a Royal Commission.

Holding a similar enquiry by the Royal Commission would be duplicating in such instance," he said in a three-page statement issued here Friday titled the "Death Inquiry Under the CPC in respect of the death of Teoh Beng Hock."

Earlier Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said in Bangi that the AG would issue a statement and a detailed explanation on the matter.

Najib said this after being asked by the media on calls made by several groups for the formation of the royal commission to study the procedures concerning interrogation applied by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to determine the cause of Teoh's death as well.

On the Royal Commission of Enquiry, Abdul Gani said thus far, the government had set up Royal Commission of Enquiry, among others, in relation to the tragedies at the Penang Ferry Terminal and Bright Sparklers Fireworks factory.

"Those were tragedies and disasters where many lives were lost due to negligence and non-compliance of operating procedures by the relevant authorities. None touched on the cause of death of a person," he said.

Abdul Gani said he had acted under Section 339 (1) of the CPC to direct the Magistrate to hold an inquiry into the death of Teoh, and the Magistrate is duty bound to hold an inquiry.

The Cabinet on Wednesday ordered an inquest next week to determine the cause of death of Teoh, whose body was found on July 16 on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, which houses the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office on the 14th floor.

It also ordered the establishment of a royal commission of inquiry to study the standard operating procedures of the MACC in questioning witnesses.

The death of Teoh, 30, political aide to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, raised public outcry after he was found dead following questioning as a witness by the MACC over alleged misuse of funds by certain state executive councillors in Selangor.

Abdul Gani also said the public must not be confused about the functions of the Royal Commission set up by the government with an inquiry under the CPC.

He said Section 2 of the Commissions of Enquiry Act 1950 clearly made reference to the enquiry into the conduct and management of government officers and departments or for public welfare.

"Therefore, it cannot be overstretched to cover an inquiry into the death of this nature, wherein an inquiry by the Magistrate under the Criminal Procedure Code is more appropriate and sanctioned by the law," he said.

He said the Royal Commission is rightly and lawfully formed for the purpose of enquiring into the procedural aspects of the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission in carrying out investigations.

"What is important is that we must abide by the Laws of the country. In all fairness, both the common interest of the Government and the public must be addressed.

"The inquiry under the Criminal Procedure Code necessitated by the Law and the enquiry under the Commission of Enquiry Act 1950 are the mechanisms to arrive at the truth in a fair and just manner.

"It will also address wholly all concerns raised by the Government and the public at large," added Abdul Gani.