A decade on, Putrajaya’s ‘confusing’ reaction to Teoh Beng Hock’s death disappoints kin

A crowd gathers for a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
A crowd gathers for a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

SHAH ALAM, July 13 — One decade after the death of Teoh Beng Hock, his friends and family expressed their disappointment with the Pakatan Harapan government for not providing a clear investigation to his untimely demise.

Expressing her deep “regret and disappointment”, Teoh’s sister, Lee Lan also questioned the confusing move by the government.

“Last year the government has promised to reopen the case under Section 302 of Penal Code of 302 (for murder) yet now they have reopen the case under Section 342 (for wrongful confinement).

“This is absolutely incomprehensible. Was the culprit responsible so powerful that they can affect the course of the investigation and even make the case to be investigated under a different penal code?’’ she asked.

Teoh Beng Hock’s sister Teoh Lee Lan during the candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Teoh Beng Hock’s sister Teoh Lee Lan during the candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Lee Lan was speaking at a vigil held in her brother’s honour at Plaza Masalam here tonight.

This follows after the government decided to reopen the case of Teoh who died in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in 2009, under wrongful confinement instead of homicide.

The event which was held at the location of Teoh’s demise was hosted by the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy.

At the vigil, attendees had witnessed a performance by a man wearing a black veil while burning a joss stick lamenting Teoh’s death. During this time the crowd was also being serenaded by a flute meant as a show of remembrance for Teoh.

Volunteers perform during a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Volunteers perform during a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Songs such as the Sounds of Silence were also played among others by members of the UM Association of New Youth who was led by their outgoing president, Wong Yan Ke.

Pleading justice for her brother, Lee Lan, who broke down in tears, had asked those in power on how long more must her family wait for the truth.

“How long do we have to wait to get the real truth? After 10 years we are still asking the same question. We only seek justice,’’ she said.

Teoh Beng Hock Trust For Democracy Chairman Ng Geok Chee said the vigil was held not only in remembrance to Teoh but to ensure those in power will grant them closure.

“After 10 years, we are still here. The whole reason for the event is for us not to forget or forgive such injustice. We want the government to right the wrongs.

“Ten years ago we had a dysfunctional state which failed to ensure justice for Teoh. Teoh’s case shows the failure of public institutions then and we thought with the changes in government now, the perpetrators will be brought to justice yet for these people it is business as usual.

“Will we have a dysfunctional state again? I certainly hope not but the government must buck up,’’ she said.

Ng also revealed that she had tried to contact newly minted MACC Chief Commissioner Latheefa Koya on the matter yet had failed to receive any feedback.

Ramkarpal Singh Deo speaks during a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim
Ramkarpal Singh Deo speaks during a candlelight vigil for the late Teoh Beng Hock at Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam July 13, 2019. — Picture by Mukhriz Hazim

Speaking at the event was also Bukit Gelugor MP and Teoh’s family legal representative Ramkarpal Singh who said that Teoh had become a “symbol” of the new Malaysia and his contribution should not be forgotten.

“The gathering is not just about the family of Teoh Beng Hock but this is about Malaysia. This is about the integrity of government agencies in Malaysia and how we want to move forward.

“Teoh Beng Hock has become a symbol which contributed to the birth of a new Malaysia. For that reason alone. His contribution to a new Malaysia we must recognise and we must find justice for Teoh Beng Hock,’’ he said.

Ramkarpal also stated briefly that he intends to meet up with Attorney General Tommy Thomas next week to discuss on updates for the case.

In 2009, Teoh, who was the political aide to then-Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, hours after he was interrogated by the Selangor officers from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in its state headquarters, then on the 14th floor of the same building.

A royal commission of inquiry concluded that Teoh was driven to suicide by the aggressive interrogation methods used by MACC officers. It also blamed three officers for their aggressive methods which it said had violated procedures.

Last July, it was reported that the police would comply with instructions from the Attorney General’s Chambers to conduct further investigations into Teoh’s death.

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