Bar Council: RCI must probe both Teoh’s death and MACC’s procedures

The scope of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI)’s investigation must not be limited to reviewing the MACC’s interrogation techniques.

While this must be a crucial element of the RCI’s terms of reference, it falls far short of what is imperative.

Public confidence can only be restored, and justice seen to be done, if there is a high-level, independent, far-reaching and effective enquiry into the circumstances and cause of Teoh Beng Hock’s death and a concomitant review of the MACC’s interrogation and investigation techniques.

These two aspects are intrinsically interlinked and cannot be analysed, in isolation from one another, by two separate mechanisms.

Nothing less than a holistic and inclusive examination of all the relevant facts, by the RCI, will suffice.

An inquest would be restricted in scope and far less effective than an RCI. The presiding magistrate is generally a junior judicial officer who would not have the power to order investigations nor have the medical expertise necessary to draw the appropriate conclusions.

By comparison, the RCI’s members can consist of specialists in legal as well as medical fields.

Teoh’s death is a matter of immense public interest that warrants the highest level of priority. While the setting up of the RCI is a positive step, the integrity and credibility of the RCI will rest heavily on the composition of its members.

Furthermore, it is vital that the RCI’s efforts be transparent, comprehensive and credible, and yield concrete results in order to dispel the public’s disillusionment with the outcomes of previous Royal Commissions.

The RCI will be discredited as a sham if the Government does not have the political will to implement its recommendations.

Teoh’s family, colleagues and friends, and the Malaysian public, deserve nothing less than the Government’s absolute commitment in this regard.

[Ragunath Kesavan is the president of the Malaysian Bar]

24/07/09

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