Dear Paprika: Beng Hock’s Death

Dear Paprika,

You were born in the most beautiful country in the world. Tunku Abdul Rahman once declared himself as the happiest Prime Minister in the world. Yet, today, there are those who will do unspeakable things to give us nightmares.

I have just returned from watching a play simply entitled “Beng Hock” at the KLPAC. I found  the 45-minute play powerful, intense and moving. The play is based on the death of Teoh Beng Hock while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

The scene opens with a young man (played by Shufitri Sukardi) who has just lost his job and is feeling sad. A stranger (played by Nurbaya Hassan) approaches him and reminds him to be thankful that he has only lost his job, unlike Teoh Beng Hock who lost his life. The young man then imagines the interrogation that Beng Hock must have gone through in the hands of the MACC.

Poster for the play. Source: ilassotickets.com

At the start of the interrogation, the young man is asked for his personal details over and over again by MACC officers (played by Aloy Paradoks, Azzad Mohadzir, Amerul Affendi and Azrul Azizi). It seems as though they are trying to wear him down. Then, as the interrogation continues, it intensifies with verbal abuse and rough manhandling. The MACC officers slap the young man and choke him with strangleholds in order to force him to sign a confession. The interrogation goes on d over many hours.

Finally, they carry him to the window and threaten to throw him out if he does not sign the confession they prepared. In the next moment, the young man falls to his death. Watching Shufitri imitate the pose of Beng Hock’s dead body made the hair at the back of my neck stand on end.

I think I clapped the loudest at the end of the play. I was genuinely moved by the actors’ portrayal of what had happened to Teoh Beng Hock on the fateful morning of 16 July, 2009.

Surprisingly, the director Hariry Jalil gave almost no dialogue to the young man. Throughout the interrogation, the young man was not given a voice to reply the verbal barrage by the MACC officers. While watching Shufitri receiving the abuse silently, I felt anger and frustration as I sat in the audience. Another shrewd move was casting a Malay actor to play the protagonist. I felt this move was to show that Beng Hock’s fate could have been any Malaysian’s.

The producer Faisal Mustaffa, was called up by the police a few days before opening night to explain the motives behind the play. When I heard about it, I knew the play would be good! I was not disappointed.

At the end of the play, I asked the director and producer if they had used artistic license in portraying the violent scenes. They replied that they interpreted what had happened by referring to the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI)’s findings. By the way, Uncle Marcus van Geyzel thinks the RCI’s findings is a sham, and I agree.

Teoh Beng Hock was a young political aide who was assisting the MACC’s investigations as a witness to determine if RM2,400 was wrongly used. He was interrogated at the MACC office from 5.00pm on 15 July 2009 till 3.45am on 16 July (the MACC claimed that they released Beng Hock at that time). Beng Hock’s body was found at 1.30pm. The RCI concluded that Beng Hock committed suicide by jumping from the window of the 14th floor. Why would he do that when he was not the one being investigated? Moreover, the sum being investigated was so small. Also, he was about to get married in the morning and his fiancee was pregnant with his child.

Dear Paprika, don’t you smell something fishy too?

It has been three years since Teoh Beng Hock’s lifeless body was found sprawled below the 14th floor of the MACC office and, believe it or not, in 2011 a similar fate befell Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed while in MACC’s custody! Till today no one has been charged for either deaths. After the two deaths, people joked, “If the MACC calls you in for questioning, make sure they question you in the basement of the office! And choose a room without windows!”

I know it may seem unreal that the very government agencies that were created to safeguard the nation and its people are linked to such scandals. This is why I applaud the efforts of the people involved in staging Beng Hock. It ensures justice for the innocent is not forgotten.

Your loving father,

Daddy

PS.- 1,805 Malaysians died while in custody between 2003 and 2009.

 

 


Posts by Pepper Lim

Pepper is the father of two adorable children named Paprika Lim and Saffron Lim. "Dear Paprika" is a series of letters written for posterity. When Paprika is 20 years old, he will be 61. He prefers to use logic and evidence when presented with seemingly miraculous events. He supports LGBT rights and believes a person’s sexuality is no concern of others. In his spare time, he authored "The Troublesome Prince Lucky Mole"; a best-seller children’s story book. His family lives in beautiful Malaysia, a country rich in natural resources and unlimited potential. He moves with UndiMsia and APOSL. He has plans to make his family proud.

Posted on 10 July 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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4 Responses to Dear Paprika: Beng Hock’s Death

  1. Vnl

    Thanks for writing this, Pepper.

  2. Rebecca Choong

    Nice!

  3. candy

    Very touching article indeed!

  4. lisa_ng

    Good one, Pepper. We must remember.