Enter the court jester

By Mariam Mokhtar, Malaysian Mirror

Very few court cases are titillating but the cross-examination on Wednesday, of Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand by Abdul Razak Musa, the lawyer representing the Malaysia Anti-Corruption Commission, was a tragi-comedy.

This is Dr. Pornthip’s second appearance at the inquest into the death of Teoh Beng Hock, a DAP political aide who was suspected to have fallen from the 14th floor of the MACC’s state headquarters.

The facts are these: TBH died under mysterious circumstances. The investigation into his death is a charade. The inquest is a pantomime. The MACC prosecutor behaved like a court jester.

If it wasn’t for the seriousness of the crime, we wouldn’t know whether to laugh or cry. If Abdul Razak needed a change of job, he would make a successful stand-up comic.

Abdul Razak sought to discredit Pornthip because of the variance in her first and second post-mortem analyses, (she based her conclusions on the first-mortem report and on the observation of a second post-mortem).

However, she highlighted that procedures were not adhered to during the first autopsy. She said, “The other doctors made a mistake.”

This is not the only lapse in adherence to ‘standard operating procedures’. What will Abdul Razak say about the ‘suicide note’ that was ‘discovered’, two months after TBH’s death? Protocol was overlooked.

Are we to believe that Abdul Razak is the best lawyer the MACC can summon? He is a class-act, but for all the wrong reasons. He suggested that Teoh ‘strangled himself’ and was ‘depressive’.

Abdul Razak even amused the court with a comical demonstration of ‘strangling himself’. He might not be so thrilled to know that everyone present wished he had done so, and save the agony of listening to him.

The court was then transfixed when Abdul Razak suggested that Pornthip’s report was “based on her imagination”. He then asked if Pornthip had “any experience jumping off a building”.

Only a vacuous person, or someone who is high on drugs, could even contemplate such a ridiculous question.

Abdul Razak then showed his ignorance of science and of common sense by saying that, “If (Teoh) was unconscious, his body would be heavier.” Is he alluding to the ‘dead weight’ of a person when it is motionless?

On the anniversary of Teoh’s death, the MACC chief commissioner Abu Kassim Mohamed pledged not to “cover up” Teoh’s death.  Admittedly, he may be fighting a losing battle to regain public confidence.

At the end of July, the MACC operation review panel said the media should “protect” MACC to encourage foreign direct investment into Malaysia.  It was suggested that the press had been unfair in its coverage of the MACC and should help rebuild its image.

Amanah Raya Berhad’s board director Aminah Pit Abd Raman said, “We are talking about image. This is the country that we love, you are the press. You can write one negative article that will effect investment for an example but you can also highlight the positive things.”

At yesterday’s inquest, Abdul Razak, accused Pornthip of having “already made up her mind (against suicide)”.

Having heard and read of the circus he conducted, I can write that Abdul Razak is a ‘determined’ person. Frankly, Abdul Razak – incoherent, incompetent and indelicate – has discredited himself by pressing the self-destruct button.

Malaysia has caught the world’s attention again – albeit for negative reasons: Corruption, injustice, religious absurdities, racial inequality, insubordination of women and this farcical trial. The government will have a tough fight to regain credibility.

Teoh’s death is a disgrace to all Malaysians but the MACC seems more concerned about its image (does it understand that it is not in the image business but that it exists to fight corruption?).