Cabinet orders suspension of MACC officers

KUALA LUMPUR, July 22 – The Cabinet decided this morning to order the suspension of all anti-graft officers involved in the investigation against a number of DAP and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) executive councilors in Selangor, following the public outcry over the suspicious death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the suspension will be in effect pending police investigations into the death of Teoh, who was classified as a witness in the graft probe.

It is unclear so far if a royal commission of inquiry will be set up.

Politicians from both Barisan Nasional (BN) and PR have called for the royal commission to be set up.

MACC’s advisory board members have also urged the government to set up such a panel.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is expected to make an announcement on what the Cabinet decides at a press conference this afternoon.

The Cabinet decision effectively puts into limbo the probe on the alleged misuse of public funds by the Selangor PR government.

PR leaders have maintained that the probe was politically motivated. They have pointed out that Teoh was called in for questioning over an alleged misappropriation of RM2,400, which had been denied, while allegations involving BN leaders and far larger sums of money have been ignored by the graft-busters.

Teoh had been called in by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to assist them in their probe last Wednesday.

MACC officials claim he was “released” at 3.45am the next day.

His body was found at 1.30pm last Thursday, sprawled on the balcony of an adjacent building.

The suspicious circumstances have put the spotlight on interrogation methods employed by law enforcement agencies.

Outraged PR leaders have elevated the death into a cause célèbre and put the Najib administration on the defensive.

The PM also has his hands full because some quarters within his own party have attempted to turn the criticisms levelled against the MACC into a racial issue.

The Umno-controlled Berita Harian, in an article written by New Straits Times group managing editor Zainul Ariffin Isa, had suggested that criticisms against the MACC were an attempt to weaken “Malay institutions.”

Zainul had also attacked the Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim for questioning whether “those of the same race as him” were able to act in a fair and just manner.

The Umno president, who has been trying to project a more inclusive administration through his 1 Malaysia concept, is now under pressure to rein in his own party machinery.

MI
22/07/09

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