If the present government does not want to change the system, then the rakyat can change the Government in the next GE. S H Tan reports from a forum in Penang in support of Teoh Beng Hock.
A crowd of about 400 people packed the forum hall in the Han Chiang College in Lim Lean Teng Road, Penang on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was a very encouraging support from Penangites for the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign.
The panel for the afternoon comprised Beng Hock’s sister Teoh Lee Lan, Aliran president P Ramakrishnan, Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre president Toh Kin Woon, Amnesty International Malaysia executive director Nora Murat and the moderator Ng Eng Kiat of Suaram.
A group of five people from the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign drove all the way up from KL for this event.
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Lee Lan conveyed her apologies for not being able to be present in person because of some urgent business at home. However a videotaped recording of her speech in Mandarin was played. She made an emotional and passionate appeal for justice for her brother. She narrated the facts of the case and said her family had been facing all sorts of obstacles and setbacks all along the way: for example, steps to prevent Dr Pornthip from testifying, harassment and humiliation of Beng Hock and his family, deliberate delays to the hearing and withholding of evidence from the trial.
Lee Lan said that Beng Hock was only a witness to an alleged corruption case involving slightly over RM2,000 but he paid the price for it with his life. She lamented that support for Beng Hock and his family is slowly waning and fewer and fewer people are attending the inquest. It is beginning to be a lonely fight for justice for Teoh Beng Hock. The authorities appear to be (deliberately?) delaying and prolonging the case – with the hope that the public will lose interest and forget about it?
Lee Lan said that her family does not need public sympathy but needs our support. She said that the public can give their support by:
- signing the on-line petition
- attending public forums and helping to spread awareness
- showing support by wearing the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign T-shirt on Saturdays and Sundays to remind people and to keep the campaign alive.
- donating or volunteering for the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign. The campaign website can be found here.
- attending at least one of the hearings in KL to give the family support with our presence.
‘Change the government’
Ramakrishnan raised several questions in his speech. He asked why Beng Hock was grilled non-stop for nearly 11 hours till about 3.45am in the morning when he was only a witness to an alleged corruption case involving slightly over RM2,000? Is it believable that Beng Hock died without the knowledge of any MACC officers? There are far too many why, what, how and when in this case. Rama said that important evidence has been clearly suppressed and the AG’s chambers has not acted in a transparent manner. The investigating officer had also given contradictory statements on the purported suicide note. The whole inquest is a sham and Aliran calls for the inquest to be disbanded and discontinued. A Royal Commission should be setup immediately to take over the case.
Nora Murat said that there is an urgent need to transform the police and enforcement units and their procedures. She questioned the transparency of the police when there are so many deaths in police custody. She called for an immediate Royal Commission to investigate the cause of Beng Hock’s death. The Commission must have a transparent committee comprising members with unyielding integrity. We cannot allow another Beng Hock case to happen ever again. Nora called on civil society and the public to speak out and raise awareness.
Kin Woon stressed the need for justice for Beng Hock and for all those who have died in police custody. He was concerned that the truth has not been told in the case. He urged everyone to fight for a torture-free society. We need to find the truth of how Beng Hock died and why.
During the Q&A session, a member of the audience questioned the effectiveness of a Royal Commission. He reminded the panel that the commission recommendations in the past have remained as recommendations up till today and the federal government does not seem to have the political will to do anything. One of the panel members replied that if the present government does not want to change the system, then the rakyat can change the Government in the next General Election.
After the forum at the Han Chiang College ended, a group of ‘Malaysians for Beng Hock’ brought the campaign to the Speakers’ Square. They spoke to a crowd of about a hundred gathered there. This was followed by a declaration of ‘Say Sorry Day’ in support of the “Save Vui Kong” campaign.
This is an edited version of a report on the forum which first appeared on the sembangsembangforum. blogspot.com site.