[Malaysiakini] Teoh Beng Hock's family wants four more in Royal Commission panel
The family of the late Teoh Beng Hock has expressed disappointment over the composition of the royal commission of inquiry that has been formed to look into the cause of his death.
In a statement today, Beng Hock's sister Lee Lan said that the family is relieved that the cause of death was part of the commission's terms of reference but said there was no consultation over the panel composition.
Lee Lan (right) laments that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak never consulted the family nor did they consider the seven nominees for the panel made by 126 NGOs.
The seven are former deputy prime minister Musa Hitam, former Bar Council presidents Ambiga Sreenevasan and Raja Aziz Addruse, former Court of Appeal judge NH Chan, former inspector-general of police Hanif Omar, rights group Tenaganita director Irene Fernandez and former Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Ronald McCoy.
“We don't understand why not even one of the seven prominent names suggested by the NGOs was chosen,” said Lee Lan.
Lee Lan said that the family urges Najib to expand the panel's composition to include four more individuals from the seven suggested by the NGOs. She said that the additions would add to the commission's credibility and independence, and the public will have more confidence in its capabilities.
Of the seven, Lee Lan mentions former top cop Haniff, human rights expert Fernandez, legal experts Raja Aziz and Ambiga as the family's choice of additional commissioners.
“Only then can there be an all-encompassing investigation on Beng Hock's cause of death,” she said.
However, the family expressed gratitude that Najib kept his promise when he visited the family on July 28, 2009, almost two weeks after Beng Hock's passing.
At the time, Najib said he would consider having the commission investigating the cause of death should the family be dissatisfied with the results of the inquest on Teoh's death.
Lee Lan said that family would be trying to arrange another meeting with the premier soon to better understand the terms of reference and submit proposals for the expansion of commission's panel.
“We hope the premier will listen to our proposals and concerns,” she said.
Lee Lan said that the family hopes that the commission would be able to address several questions which went unanswered during the course of the inquest.
'The government is responsible'
These include establishing who was responsible for Beng Hock's pre-fall injuries and why several statements by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) were contradictory.
“After an 18-month inquest which delivered an open verdict, we hope that the commission will not disappoint us again,” she said.
“We stressed that Beng Hock died while in government custody. Thus the government must be responsible for taking action against those who caused his death.”
Following a public outcry, Najib recanted his previous statement that the commission will only look into whether Beng Hock's human rights were violated when he was investigated by the MACC.
Yesterday, Najib announced that Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin had approved of the commission's formation.
The commission will be headed by former Federal Court judge James Foong and comprise another former Federal Court judge Abdul Kadir Sulaiman, retired Court of Appeal judge T Selventhiranathan, forensic pathologist Dr Bhupinder Singh and Cyberjaya Medical Science College University dean Dr Mohamed Hatta Shaharom.
Beng Hock was found dead on the fifth floor landing of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam on July 16, 2009, the day after he was interrogated by the Selangor MACC on the 14th floor of the same building.
After an 18-month-long inquest, the coroner delivered an open verdict, but strangely stated that the death was caused by neither suicide nor homicide.