PUTRAJAYA, Jan 7 — Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail has joined the Teoh family in seeking a revision of the open verdict in Teoh Beng Hock’s death as Datuk Seri Najib Razak kept his promise today for a royal panel to probe into anti-graft investigation methods.
The prime minister announced the formation of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) to look into the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission’s (MACC) investigation procedures, saying it has three months to complete its probe.
The RCI, he added, would have “specific” terms of reference and would not be expanded to include a probe into how the 30-year-old DAP political aide had plunged to his death in 2009.
This, said Najib, was because the law stipulated that investigations into a person’s cause of death should be carried out through the coroner’s office.
“You must realise that we have to operate under the law and the law says that an inquest into the death of the individual is through the coroner’s office.
“So we have to go through the process but we are establishing this RCI to ensure that there would be no abuse of power or of human rights, and to look at the procedures relating to investigations by the MACC,” he said.
Najib declined to say, however, if he had been personally satisfied with the coroner’s “open verdict” decision on Wednesday, which does not conclusively determine how Teoh had fallen to his death.
“My personal view is not important. What is important is that the process of review will take place and if there is (such a process), it means that the government wants the decision to be revealed,” he said.
Najib denied that he was forming the RCI out of political pressure, pointing out that he had already announced the government’s intention to do so shortly after Teoh’s death.
“No, because I made this statement in July 2009. How can there be political pressure?
“The RCI will be formed under Section 2 of the Investigation Commission Act 1950 and will be tasked with looking into the procedures of the MACC, where appropriate, and to investigate the conduct of any of its officials,” he said.
Members of the RCI would be finalised soon and announced after the Cabinet meeting next Wednesday, he said.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an inconclusive “open verdict” in Teoh’s case but ruled out both homicide and suicide as possible causes behind the aide’s fall.
The former aide to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah plunged to his death from the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.
He had earlier been interrogated overnight by MACC officials on allegations that his former boss had been abusing state funds.
The coroner’s verdict had disappointed Teoh’s family and several lawmakers, who immediately called on the government to form the RCI to probe the incident further.
DAP advisor Lim Kit Siang urged the administration yesterday to expand the RCI’s terms of reference to include a probe into the possible causes of Teoh’s fall.
This, said the veteran politician, would help solve the mystery behind Teoh’s death, which many have speculated was not accidental.
On that aspect, however, the prime minister pointed out that Attorney-General Tan Sri Abdul Gani Patail had expressed his dissatisfaction with the coroner’s verdict and would be filing for a revision soon at the Shah Alam High Court.
The verdict, in ruling out both homicide and suicide, meant that the 18-month inquest had failed to determine how Teoh had fallen to his death.
“Obviously the Attorney-General is not happy with the verdict and wants it to be referred to a higher court for review,” Najib said.
Teoh’s family has also indicated their intention to file for a revision of the coroner’s verdict, citing their dissatisfaction that his decision had failed to solve the mysterious death.
On Teoh’s family’s request to meet with him, Najib said that he was willing but would not be able to determine when.
He urged the family to allow the government to proceed with its plans in reviewing the case.
“I think we all have to be mindful of the laws of the country. We should not be carried away with our emotions. What is important is for us to know the truth and the government wants to know the truth,” he said.
The prime minister pledged his administration’s sincerity in solving the case and told Teoh’s family that he “empathised and sympathised” with them.
“We will do our utmost to find out the truth; what really happened.
“So I hope that the family concerned, whilst we sympathise with their position and empathise with what they have gone through, we hope that they will allow the due process to take place.
“Hopefully, we will be able to establish what really happened,” he said.
Najib added that he hoped the High Court’s review on the coroner’s decision would “bring closure” to the highly-publicised case.