Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah tells the RCI he was ordered to stand for hours in a small, unlit room.
KUALA LUMPUR: Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah today testified that investigators from the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) employed a “good cop-bad cop” routine on him when he was “mentally and physically tortured”.
Tan also told the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh Beng Hock’s death that the officers had revealed this during a friendly breakfast he had with them after he was grilled for 17-plus hours the previous day.
“The next morning, emotions were very good. We even talked about last night’s (interrogation) and an officer who threatened me the previous night even told me that ‘we are trained this way; one will be aggressive, another will be soft’,” Tan said.
Tan said that during the interrogation, he was being repeatedly forced to admit that he did not really supply an order of 1,500 Malaysian flags to (Seri Kembangan state assemblyman) Ean Yong (Hian Wah), but had received a RM2,400 payment for it.
He said this was untrue.
Tan said he was ordered to stand for hours in a small, unlit room.
“One officer said: ‘ You believe this is my place, I will hit you. (You percaya tak ini tempat saya, saya hentam you)’ and pointed his finger very near my forehead. In my heart, I thought: ‘I’m a witness, why you treat me like that’, ” Tan said.
He said one officer then came to him to try to persuade him by saying: ” Just cooperate, my boss is already angry, just cooperate.”
‘They used religion’
Tan said another had allegedly told him: “‘Cina bodoh. Apa ini boleh jadi ahli majlis. You pembangkang bodoh lah. Kita tak perlu warrant punya (Stupid Chinese. How can you be a councillor. You are a stupid opposition member. We don’t need a warrant).’”
Tan also said an officer named Bulkini had threatened to hit him by swinging a pouch at him.
He claimed that MACC officers had done all that eventhough they had the documents that proved he had actually supplied the flags.
Like Teoh, Tan, 41, was a witness during MACC’s investigations into alleged misuse of state funds by Ean Yong.
Tan, who was also a businessman then, was interrogated from around 8.30pm on July 15, 2009, to 1.30pm the next day.
Tan also claimed that the investigators threatened that they would bring his daughter to the office and make him cry in front of her or bring his wife here so nobody can take care of his child.
“Then they used religion. He asked if I believed in God and said ‘God like people who are kind- hearted’. He said ‘I was not good because after five years of marriage, I only have one child’,” he said.
Tan claimed he was also asked to swear that if he lied about supplying his flags, his family would be “shattered”, and was forced to repeat it several times.
He said the result of the “torture” left him “mentally and physically” tired. (I felt) insulted, angry, miserable, sad, disappointed, and I wanted to go home.”
Tan had slept in the small room from 2am and saw Teoh briefly sometime in the morning when he was heading to the toilet.
He said he just asked him (Teoh): “You still here?” but was unsure if Teoh had replied.
‘There are weaknesses’
Tan said that at 11.30am a statement was taken from him at a leisurely pace but at 12.30pm, the officer suddenly seemed to have something on his mind and started to rush.
“At the time, an officer had whispered something to the person taking down my statement and he started to rush. Later they told me I could take all my things and go home, but not to say anything outside,” he said.
Earlier, MACC deputy commissioner (operations) Mohd Shukri Abdull was asked on his reflection of the entire episode.
“This is a first time we had such an issue. It deeply affected the entire organisation. The Selangor government had issued an order saying its staff could not be interviewed after 5pm. These affected us.
“There are weaknesses and we will rectify them. If the commission feels that there are any officers who did anything wrong, then go ahead… We don’t want to protect our men. What we want is the truth… ”
“We’d like some justice for everybody – justice to the family, justice to MACC and justice to Malaysia also,” he said.
RCI chairman James Foong said the commission shared Shukri’s sentiments.
Teoh, a former reporter and Ean Yong’s political aide, was found dead on July 16, 2009, on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.
He had been interrogated the night before by MACC officers at their office, located on the 14th floor of the same building.
On Jan 5, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas returned an open verdict in the inquest into Teoh’s death, ruling out both suicide and homicide.
Subsequently, the government caved in to public pressure and established the commission now sitting.
It is investigating both the cause of Teoh’s death and MACC’s interrogation methods. The inquiry is scheduled to end on April 25.
Later in the afternoon, Selangor MACC assistant enforcement officer Raymond Nion John Timban, 40, testified that he saw Teoh lying on a sofa at 6am. He added that the area was dark.
Timban, believed to be the last person to see Teoh alive, said he was the officer in charge of checking through Teoh’s e-mail, but was otherwise not involved with Teoh.
When examined by Bar Council’s lawyer Edmund Bon, Timban admitted that there were discrepancies in the statements he gave during the inquest, to the police, and to an internal inquiry.
His testimony also confused the commission, especially his claim that he was barred from going to certain areas in the office.
Said Foong: “I don’t understand. You said when you met Teoh, you had to use the long route because you do no have an access card to certain doors. But then you said all the doors were actually opened.”