New Sunday Times, Page: 24
By GOPAL RAJ KUMAR
Sunday, 19 September 2010
THERE seems to be a nascent, stygian culture in its ascendency in Malaysia. Supporters of this culture promote the absurdly unconventional while eluding the truth. This, they seek to achieve by any means even if that includes promoting and disseminating statements derived from half truths and gossip, directed at those who, by virtue of~ their office, are often unable to defend themselves.
Even before the Teoh Beng Hock inquiry has had the opportunity to run its course to a just conclusion aided by independent testimony and admissible evidence, some quarters have deliberately spawned a generation of capital lies and rumours, feeding the frenzied curiosity of a gullible and inquisitive public. All this in the name of “justice”.
The highly inappropriate use of the word murder at this stage of the inquiry, for example, appears to be a staple in the vocabulary of these people. To describe Teoh’s demise as such is simply in breach of rules of evidence, procedure or simply good advocacy.
Such language is highly inflammatory and prejudicial to a fair, independent and just outcome.
The breach has been allowed to go unchecked thus far, subverting the integrity and purpose of the inquiry in the process.
The inference to be drawn from the unchallenged use of the word murder in context is this. A conclusion as to how Teoh died has already been acknowledged, decided and accepted by all parties to the inquiry even before the inquiry has been allowed to run its lawful course.
Lawyers acting for Teoh’s family seem to see it as their duty to interfere with the conduct of the inquiry at every given opportunity and to sully the reputation of government and its agencies in the process. The truth into Teoh’s death appears not to be a priority or even a remote consideration. Teoh remains a casualty of the truth.
Teoh Beng Hock, the Inquiry and the “Funniest Video” (a spin-off of the inquiry currently doing the rounds over the Internet) is a case in point. It demonstrates the general level of ignorance that dominates and overwhelms the inquiry and the public in Malaysia.
There are also issues with the evidence” of Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand and with her “impartiality”.
If statements attributed to her testimony are to be believed, this expert has misled the inquiry. It is observed that Dr Pornthip, when asked to explain the discrepancy in her statistical estimates of the probabifity of death resulting from Teoh’s “murder” (as she and her team prefer to refer to Teoh’s death), she is reported to have replied with words to the effect that by giving it the higher probabffity of 80 per cent in her initial testimony, she wished to force a second autopsy on Teoh’s remains.
quent hearings were orchestrated, inappropriate and irrelevant. She in short was being unhelpful to the inquiry by playing to an audience of the converted.
As tragic as Teoh’s death is, his persona now dwarfs the man in life by the disproportionate attention given to the circumstances surrounding his death.
Such is the potential for damage to the integrity and independence of government agencies when those responsible for management of issues and the general conduct of these agencies like the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission are unable to properly and in a timely and organised maimer explain how an event such as the death of Teoh in their custody occurred.
Conspiracy theories are born out of such gaffes. Regardless, Teoh, like the late A. Kugan, is entitled like any other human being to their dignity and rights in life as they are in death as the MACC is entitled to its responses within an acceptable time frame and the organised framework of the law Using it as a tool to attack and vilify government and its agencies outside of legally prescribed rules, interested parties in blogsphere and at the inquiry, lend little credibility to their cause.
Teoh has been hijacked in death as he may well have been in life, a tool of political intrigue and a prop for political gain. The truth, however, is as much a casualty and a victim of circumstances as Teoh was in life and continues to be in death.
The inquiry into Teoh’s death would in other jurisdictions fall into the category of a coronial inquiry.
A coronial inquiry is one whereby the coroner, assisted by legal representatives working together with experts, would investigate the circumstances of the subject’s death and make appropriate findings upon the evidence presented to it in a transparent, detached and forensic way.
In instances where there is strong admissible evidence of wrongdoing on the part of any party involved in the death of the subject, the coroner’s findings may include a recommendation to the public prosecutor that would support a criminal or civil prosecution of culpable parties. Malaysian-born Gopal Raj Kumar resides in Australia and is a keen observer of Malaysian affairs