The following is a press release by the Malaysian Bar on 23 July 2011, following the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Death of Teoh Beng Hock (“RCI”).
There are a number of key points on which the Malaysian Bar agrees with the report of the Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Death of Teoh Beng Hock (“RCI”).
We concur with the following findings of the RCI:
The Malaysian Bar, however, does not concur with the finding by the RCI that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide. Such a finding, in our view, is unsupported by the facts and the evidence.
Contrary to the statement made by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, forensic psychiatrist Professor Paul Mullen did not testify that Teoh Beng Hock had a “weak character” that had led to him taking his own life. Professor Mullen also did not conclude that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide; rather, his testimony stated that “in [his] opinion, what we learned of Teoh Beng Hock’s personality and behaviour do not suggest any increased risk of suicide”. He further opined that the context of the events that had taken place was not one “which, in [his] experience, leads to suicide in custody”, as he had not been made aware of anything “to explain panic and distress sufficient to drive [Teoh Beng Hock] to conclude his honor had been irreparably tarnished”.
This is in stark contrast to what the Minister reportedly stated during the release of the RCI’s report, namely that Teoh Beng Hock had “truly committed suicide based on his character that had changed from a low-risk group to a high-risk group for suicide after undergoing a continuous and aggressive questioning session”. Professor Mullen’s testimony does not provide the basis for the RCI’s finding of suicide, such as that described in the section titled “conclusion on forensic psychiatric aspects” in the RCI’s report.
It is noted that the RCI found the following:
In view of the above, and that there was no evidence whatsoever produced at the RCI hearing of Teoh Beng Hock’s whereabouts or movements after 6:15 am, and the staff of the Selangor MACC office would have begun arriving by 8:00 am, to surmise that Teoh Beng Hock had committed suicide between 7:15 am and 11:15 am requires a leap in logic and an assumption of facts not in evidence.
The Malaysian Bar also notes that the joint expert psychiatric report of Dr Badiah Yahya and Dr Nor Hayati Ali – the experts engaged by MACC who were present during most of the court proceedings and had interviewed Teoh Beng Hock’s family members, housemate and work colleagues – stated:
We did not have any evidence on how the investigation was conducted as there were “no written questions posted to [Teoh Beng Hock]” or audio recording as to ascertain the amount of pressure that he experienced. It is not known whether he had experienced in his mind the effects of being possibly prosecuted on the allegations, whether it would have been devastating for him and/or his organisation. This should require more information on what was said and done in the period taken [sic] into custody until he was found dead.
It is very clear to the Malaysian Bar that full responsibility for Teoh Beng Hock’s death lies squarely and solely on the MACC, and that immediate action must be taken to hold the culpable officers accountable for their behaviour. In this regard, we welcome the reported statement by Dato’ Seri Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz, that “appropriate action would be taken against the officers through the process of law without delay”. The authorities should investigate the relevant MACC officers for possible offences under sections 304 and 304A of the Penal Code, namely for culpable homicide not amounting to murder and for causing the death of TBH by negligence, respectively.
The Malaysian Bar also calls on the Government of Malaysia and MACC to consider:
Lim Chee Wee
23 July 2011