Abandon the inquest

By P Ramakrishnan, Aliran President

The inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock has been totally discredited.

Nobody is going to believe the coroner’s verdict. The latest sham that has emerged claiming the discovery of a mysterious note only seems to suggest what that verdict is likely to be.

We were told that the findings of the Teoh Beng Hock’s death would be made known within two months. Now after more than one year, we are nowhere nearer the truth; no one is any wiser when the findings would be concluded.

All that we have witnessed are delays and denials adding to the agony and anguish to the Teoh family. It is unfair to them that they should suffer this dereliction without any sign of closure to this tragedy.

When one is seeking the truth, no stone should be left unturned; no scrap of evidence should be overlooked. But – unfortunately – this wasn’t the case in this enquiry.

According to the investigating officer, he found a note in Beng Hock’s sling bag but put it aside because he “did not realise the significance of it.” What gave him that right to come to this conclusion? His duty and business should have been to sieve through every item that was in that sling bag for possible clues.

But he behaved like a clueless amateur displaying a total lack of discernment. The Attorney-General’s clarification that when this note was finally brought to his attention on 7 October 2009, he wanted further investigations to be carried out is indeed baffling. He should have tendered this to the coroner for the court to determine its authenticity and relevance to the case. To submit this so-called “new evidence” some ten months later is totally unacceptable. It only raises questions of ethics and propriety.

From whatever angle one may look at this situation, there is only one inevitable conclusion and that is evidence has been clearly and surreptitiously suppressed. 

Instead of assisting by all means to arrive at the truth, the AG’s Chambers have not acted in a transparent and honest manner by hanging on to this so-called “new evidence” that suddenly seem to have assumed “significance” now.

This so-called “new evidence” has unfairly disrupted the entire process/proceedings so far and made the inquiry untenable. If this had been tendered from the very beginning, the trend of questioning would have taken a different form and direction.

There seems to be a contradiction in the statement issued by the AG’s Chambers as to when the note was discovered.

In Paragraph 4, it is stated: “According to the investigation officer, it was not found when he first searched the deceased’s sling bag after the incident.”

But in Paragraph 10, we are told: “However, recently the investigation officer owned up by admitting that he did in fact find the note when he searched the sling bag on July 17 …”

What then is the truth?

In Aliran’s view, the inquest has been totally discredited and therefore should be disbanded/discontinued and make way for the setting up of a Royal Commission of Enquiry. Anything short of this would be a travesty of justice.