Saturday, July 25, 2009

"The rakyat has lost faith in the BN."

Malaysiakini readers respond to Najib's announcement of a Royal Commission of Inquiry on MACC interrogation methods and a Court Inquest into the "sudden death" of Teoh Beng Hock...
What is the PM's role in this 'witch-hunt'?
July 24, 09 12:56pm

On Cabinet approves royal commission:

GH Kok: The cabinet has finally agreed to set up the royal commission of inquiry. However, as I have expected, the terms of reference of the commission falls far short of what is needed.

As reported in the media, the royal commission is to "look into the MACC's investigative procedures and to determine if there were any human rights violations when Teoh was being interrogated." Well, this is the very least that the royal commission should do but this is surely not enough!

We want to know who gave the instruction to the MACC to launch a witch-hunt against the Selangor Pakatan Rakyat government that triggered a chain of events that led to the torture and death of Teoh Beng Hock.

We know that the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission reports directly to Prime Minister Najib. We want to know what role the prime minister played in this witch-hunt.

We want the head of MACC to take the stand and answer these questions: who instructed him to start hounding the seven Pakatan Rakyat Aduns (state reps)? What instructions did they give him? What did they ask him to do? What did they ask him to find or fabricate as the case may be? What compelled him to order his officers to raid the Aduns service centres, take away files from the district offices, pull up mosque officials in Puchong for questioning, interrogate for eight hours a Kajang municipal councillor, interrogate an Adun's assistant for four hours, and finally cause the death of a courageous young man?

We, the people, want to know the truth. We want to hold the person, at the top of the chain of command, fully responsible for this entire witch-hunt. If it is necessary in order for us to get to the top person responsible, we should offer some immunity to those at the bottom who willingly provide us with the information.

The offer is open. It will not be over until it's over ... royal commission or not!

Richard Teo: Umno's exit from the seat of power has been expedited. This will be BN's last walk in the corridors of power. The events of the last few days have taken a pivotal turn and Najib could be the shortest-term Umno president to be the prime minister of Malaysia. Thanks to MACC which made all this possible. The groundswell of anger and bitterness at the institution which acted in a manner to topple the Pakatan Rakyat government was overwhelming.

People who have unwaveringly supported the BN government have now decided at last that we need a change in order to reform.
It has become obvious that BN's 50 years of being in the government has corrupted all the institutions which form the pillars of a democratic nation.

Finally, the act that MACC did was an act that will finally nail the coffin of the BN. The only way BN can reform is to exit from the seat of power and to spend sometime to reflect on its past mistakes. And with some wisdom and past experience, maybe it can make a comeback at some later date.
Farewell BN. We expected you to go after March 8, but we didn't expect it to be so soon.

A Concerned Malaysian: I think the people of Malaysia want JUSTICE to be done to be done for the late Teoh Beng Hock and not a mockery.

I seriously hope that the government will re-examine the royal commission's terms of reference. Although we may have not known Teoh but as a human person who has feelings, we feel very much for what has happened. People all around are very angry and unhappy with what is happening in Malaysia not just in Teoh's case but also in the case of Kugan where justice was not done.

The rakyat has lost faith in the BN. We hope that all those who have been responsible in the death of Teoh will be brought to justice.

JR Lee: Most Malaysians waited patiently for the cabinet to announce the setting up a royal commission to investigate, inter-alia, the death of Teoh Beng Hock. But we were shocked when the cabinet announced that the death of Teoh will not be investigated by the royal commission but only by an inquest headed by a magistrate, a very much lower authority.

Why the discrepancy? Why Teoh's death is not investigated by the royal commission? This is typical of a conspiracy to cover-up. It is definitely against the 1Malaysia principle of 'People First, Performance Now' promulgated by the PM.

It is blatantly clear that it is not 'People First' as Malaysians seeking for the truth wants Teoh's death investigated by the royal commission and the cabinet is also not performing what Malaysians expecting them to do.

The PM is not walking the talk, he is talking more of his walk and expect all Malaysian to believe him!

Bear in mind that Teoh was only a witness to an alleged crime and he lost his life in the hands of MACC. Just imagine if he was a suspect to an alleged crime.

Adcin: The royal commission announced by Najib may on the surface of it look like a smart move by our leader. It buys time for the government and it hopes that the public will move on and pass it all off as some unfortunate accident, when the anger subsides.

The experience of the royal commission on the Lingam tapes must have given heart to them. Except for some jokes at Lingam's expense and a ring tone composed in his honour, absolutely nothing of substance was ultimately achieved.

However they did not realise that they lost a lot of public confidence and in the end votes in the general election.

There will be no jokes this time for Teoh's commission, and the longer it drags on, the worse the effect will be on the government. There are no points that can be won or made for the MACC and their masters. The royal commission may buy some time and even protect some parties, but in reality it is a slow death for Najib and his BN.

We should be happy because all it needed was for Najib to cut to the chase, apprehend and castigate the offenders and revamp the MACC to be more accountable and transparent.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


By Tunku Abdul Aziz

JULY 23 — The death, while under the care of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, in mysterious circumstances of Teoh Beng Hock last week promises to weaken further the already fragile public confidence in the government and its agencies in our country.

Regaining public confidence will not be a walk in the park for the government given its abysmal record of dealing with deaths in police custody. The government should never have adopted such a patently careless and cavalier attitude when dealing with matters of public concerns. The loss of trust in the government and its agencies is extremely unfortunate because by doing the “right thing” they could have earned and retained our respect, confidence and gratitude.

The initial handling of the Beng Hock “death in custody” case by the MACC could hardly be described as professional and this has fuelled a million and one speculations. All this is extremely unfortunate, but understandable. People simply do not trust the very organisations that are supposed to protect them anymore and, for many, the suspicion they harbour is based on their bitter personal experience of official encounters with the country’s enforcement agencies. Can the government fairly blame the people for feeling angry and resentful with the way the police, and now the MACC, apparently conduct their work?

I have never hidden my true feelings about the MACC. I have been critical of this organisation which, a few months ago, I described in my weekly Sin Chew column, as OLD WINE IN A NEW BOTTLE. I wrote in my opening paragraph:

“What a waste of public funds! The creation of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission will go down in history as a feeble and pathetic final clutch at the straws by a sitting duck prime minister best remembered for his inexhaustible supply of good intentions but with nothing to show for them. The MACC was hastily conceived against a murky background of a web of duplicity and deceit. It was a desperate attempt at deluding the people of this country and the world anti-corruption community that the Abdullah Badawi administration still had a lot of fire in its belly to make corruption a high risk and low return business. The whole process was nothing more than a charade, a sleight of hand that we have come to expect from this government. In the meantime corruption continues to be in robust good health.”

I also touched on the much hyped “Hong Kong model” upon which the new corruption fighting machine is apparently based — the less said the better about this. It is clear for all to see that the MACC falls far short of the Hong Kong Independent Commission Against Corruption’s template on at least two counts. The first and most obvious short coming is an absence of a legal provision that will allow a MACC officer to call anyone to account for his wealth and lifestyle that are obviously beyond his known legal income. There is the anti-laundering provision, but this is not the same.

The second is its much touted independence. The MACC is NOT independent. No one believes it is independent because its leadership has allowed it to become a political instrument that is seen by the people to work to the Barisan Nasional agenda. This is because we are manning the MACC with the self-same functionaries who developed second guessing into a fine art form under Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s special guidance. They cannot reasonably be expected to change their work practices which have become almost second nature to them.

I should feel happy because I have been totally vindicated by the recent events but I cannot, in all conscience, bring myself to rejoice amidst a great human tragedy, the totally unexpected death of Teoh Beng Hock, a young loyal Malaysian of great promise who believed passionately in change for a better, safer Malaysia.

If the government wants to retain its legitimacy to govern, it must rededicate itself to the principles of international best practices predicated on justice for all, transparency and accountability in the conduct of the affairs of state. It must clean out its unsavoury stables of corruption because it is corruption that has reduced this country to its present sorry state. As for the MACC, in its present form it is of no use to either man or beast.

Pakatan Rakyat leaders at Teoh Beng Hock's funeral on 20 July 2009

Its senior officers have to accept full responsibility for what has gone so horribly wrong so soon after its establishment. Seriously, they should get on their bicycles in full ceremonial uniform dripping with gold plated buttons and other bits and pieces and ride off into the sunset of shame and degradation.

[Teoh Beng Hock, right, had a promising career in politics and, at 30, was looking forward to beiing a young father and husband. Pic from his Facebook album]

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


MACC, in its overzealousness to be Umno's instrument to topple the Pakatan Rakyat state government in Selangor, has done irreparable damage to its own already tainted public image. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission in its present form will have to be dismantled and rebuilt from the ground up... on a non-ethnic, non-partisan, non-political foundation.

Teoh Beng Hock did not die in vain. He brought the entire evil edifice down with him... even as he breathed his last while being brutalized by those Umno-approved bullies and thugs.

2009-07-22 14:54

MR TEOH BENG HOCK'S death marks a watershed in the attitude of the public towards their government. The government has plumbed a new low in its loss of credibility. Many people have come up to tell me in anger or despair that they feel their country has gone off the rails.

There have been too many deaths under custody.

But this death is particularly disturbing because Mr Teoh died after interrogation by a specially commissioned watchdog agency, inaugurated with fanfare last year by the outgoing administration. The very agency set up to combat the abuse of power has become in the public eye a symbol of the abuse of power.

Mr Teoh was a mere witness. He was questioned about the possible misuse of funds by his employer, a state assemblyman, to buy flags for the last Merdeka celebrations. The sum in question was RM2,400. He was questioned for eight hours through the night. He was found dead the following day after having fallen to his death from the MACC's headquarters.

Mr Teoh, 30, would have registered his marriage last weekend. His fiancée is two-months pregnant.

If the Perak debacle reminded us of the importance of the Constitution, the death under suspicious circumstances of Mr Teoh Beng Hock has brought home in a heart-wrenching way how much we rely on our public institutions to be independent and law-abiding. A shocked public is demanding answers, and rightly so.

Questions about how Mr Teoh died cannot be shut down with the usual warning that it is "liable to confuse the public" because the public is already confused. We are confused about how an idealistic young man with everything to live for can enter the headquarters of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission as a witness one day and be found dead outside the next.

Questions about the death of Mr Teoh cannot be swept aside with the paternalistic instruction to "leave it to the authorities to investigate," because the death of Mr Teoh appears to be just the result of "leaving it to the authorities investigate." It is precisely the independence of the investigating authorities that people are questioning.

Questions about the death of Mr Teoh cannot be suppressed with the warning "not to speculate" when the investigating authorities were apparently able to prognosticate, ahead of their own investigations, that foul play was not involved, and some leaders appear to have special knowledge that Mr Teoh jumped to his death of his own accord.

Questions about the death of Mr Teoh cannot be evaded with the low tactic of racializing the issue because the death of Mr Teoh touches us all as citizens, brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers. None of us wants to live under a government apparatus that cannot be trusted to be independent and to tell the truth.

Questions about the death of Mr Teoh cannot be suppressed with authoritarian prohibitions because they are about the integrity and independence of institutions that belong to the people. Those ministers who talk down to the people may have forgotten who put them into government and pays their wages, and whose questions they were put there to ask. And to answer.

To ask such questions is not to "politicize" the issue but to exercise our ownership of an issue that touches each and every one of us as citizens: our basic institutions are rotted out, and we are headed in the direction of a failed state.

It is our right and indeed our duty as citizens to keep asking questions when someone dies under circumstances that put the entire government under a shadow. As we ask these questions let us accept our joint responsibility to push uncompromisingly for an overhaul of the key institutions that have rotted through under exactly the kind of authoritarianism that would prohibit discussion of the circumstances of the death of Mr Teoh Beng Hock.

Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah
Member of Parliament for Gua Musang
Kuala Lumpur
21 July 2009

Monday, July 20, 2009

Call me PR-ejudiced

PKR hosted a very well-attended public forum Saturday, July 18th, on the Perak powergrab, PKFZ fiasco, and BN's insidious machinations against us, the public. It was oddly appropriate that the Disneylandish Sunway Resort Hotel was picked as the venue for this pivotal event, which marked a powerful resurgence of the Reformasi spirit Anwar Ibrahim introduced to Malaysia in September 1998. That word spells death to the way Umno has been operating.

Jeffery Cheah's Sunway Hotel & Spa Complex and its kitschy theme park atmosphere perfectly symbolizes the nouveau-riche vulgarity and bad taste of the Mahathir era when Malaysia's middle class suddenly expanded by leaps and bounds. "Progress and development" became a national obsession - and also a cynical excuse for riding roughshod over environmental concerns and issues of social justice, as Mahathir Mohamad impatiently and imperiously goaded the nation towards a spurious notion of cosmetic modernity codenamed Vision 2020.

Along with a burgeoning bourgeoisie arose a new breed of Malaysian citizenry, plugged into digital tech, savvy about global events, and articulate enough to express its frustration with an Umno/BN regime bogged down by its own feudalistic mindset. A popular backlash against Mahathirism was one of the sociopolitical spinoffs of rapid modernization Mahathir did not foresee.

Anwar Ibrahim - the man who in 1998 dared to publicly stand up against Mahathir Mohamad 's despotic management style (and barely lived to tell the tale) - was the star attraction at the forum and he arrived to a standing ovation amidst a grand fanfare, accompanied by former MCA vice-president Chua Jui Meng, his wife Honey Hum, and two MCA veterans (one a retired senator, the other a former MP). A few days earlier rumors that Chua Jui Meng was about to defect and join PKR had spread throughout the blogosphere and were picked up by the mainstream media.

The forum opened with a hard-hitting, eloquent and heartfelt speech by PKR politiburo member and information chief for Selangor, Dr Tan Yee Kew, who pressed home the point that Umno/BN had disqualified itself as the government of the day because it had grown too "arrogant, corrupt and violent." Later, PKR vice-president Sivarasa Rasiah added two more adjectives to Dr Tan's description of the Barisan Nasional - devious and manipulative.

PKR treasurer William Leong presented a brief update on the colossal Port Klang Free Zone scandal which could ultimately cost the rakyat RM12.5 billion. It is abundantly clear that gross abuse of power, barefaced greed and opportunism on the part of MCA and Umno politicians and their political appointees were behind this monumental scam. And yet, the infamous Malaysian Anti-Corruption Agency has been outstandingly inert in its ongoing investigation into one of the most disgraceful and outrageous examples of catastrophic mismanagement in Malaysian history, involving two former transport ministers and a current cabinet minister.

Rally for Teoh Beng Hock at Kelana Jaya Stadium, 9 July 2009 (Malaysiakini)

Sivarasa Rasiah's insider's overview of Umno's sodomy conspiracy against Anwar was riveting, to say the least. The entire scenario is best described as tragicomic: tragic in view of the depths to which some have sunk to neutralize the serious political threat Anwar poses to their traditional hegemony; comic in that these malicious and vile personalities have so little going for them they have to sink even deeper into the quicksand of absolute despicability by hurling badly aimed (and mostly imaginary) loose sphincters at Anwar Ibrahim.

Chua Jui Meng's defection from the MCA and his decision to join PKR is certainly a shot in the arm for Pakatan Rakyat. Of all the MCA cabinet ministers, Chua's track record is relatively unblemished and he is widely admired for his articulateness, his intelligence, and his debonair personality.

Indeed, looking at Anwar and Chua sitting next to each other on stage, I was struck by the fact that they not only bear a physical resemblance but might well be, as Chua himself declared in his speech, "kindred spirits." Chua admitted that in all his years as an MCA member he had never felt so welcome or enjoyed such resounding applause from the floor.

One of the two MCA veterans who arrived with Chua, retired senator David Yeoh, went up to the podium and declared that at the ripe old age of 72, his decision to quit MCA's monoethnic politics and lend the full weight of his long experience to PKR's multiracial political platform has made him feel like a 27-year-old.

It's inevitable that these MCA veterans' well-timed defections will trigger a steady migration of Chinese voters into the ranks of PKR and greatly reinforce the party's claim to being the first truly multiracial, multicultural political party. Chua disclosed that having been an MCA stalwart for so many decades it wasn't at all easy for him to change horses in midstream. In fact he had been wavering till a few days ago... when news of Teoh Beng Hock's shocking and totally unwarranted death while undergoing MACC interrogation made him realize his options were clear and simple: go down with Umno/BN's rapidly sinking ship or help build a new Pakatan Rakyat vessel with a fresh vision of justice and freedom, an honorable and seasoned captain at the helm, and a far more competent crew.

Chua Jui Meng's dramatic entry into PKR occurs a little more than a month after Zaid Ibrahim announced his induction into the top echelons of PKR. These are politicians who bring their vast experience and sound reputations into PKR at a time when party supremo Anwar Ibrahim is faced with having to go through the same nightmare sodomy trial twice - both times engineered by the same malevolent forces of violent resistance to genuine reform.

All I can say is this: each and every one of the speakers at the PKR forum inspired and uplifted the audience with their passion, their lucid sense of human decency, and their dedication to democratic ideals. Indeed, so engaging and lively was the entire forum that I sat right through the proceedings from start to finish without even once being tempted to walk out for a pee or nicotine break. I can't imagine this extraordinary level of excitement or passion at any Umno/BN event.

Anwar himself was in top form and held the crowd mesmerized for nearly 30 minutes. The spontaneous outpouring of admiration, respect and love for this charismatic orator was a palpable sensation. As a motivational speaker driven by a lifelong missionary zeal on behalf of social justice and comprehensive political reform, nobody in Malaysia can touch Anwar Ibrahim.

There is no other prime ministerial candidate in sight at this juncture more deserving and more qualified than Anwar Ibrahim to lead Malaysia out of the moral quagmire that has retarded our mental and spiritual evolution for decades.

Yes, Malaysia, it's time for REFORM-AS-1 all the way!