KUALA LUMPUR: There was deafening silence as the crowd stood to pay their respects to the late Teoh Beng Hock, who died in custody eight years ago.
Pain, despair and helplessness were seen on the the faces of Beng Hock’s parents as they sat in front of the hall, facing the crowd throughout the symbolic eight minutes of silence, during a forum about reforming the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) at the Kuala Lumpur Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH) last night.
Today marks eight years of the passing of Beng Hock, who used to be a journalist and a political aide to DAP’s Ean Yong Hian Wah. The family calls it “an agonising eight years without justice”.
The memorial service was followed by a brief speech by the president of the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy group, A Samad Said who claimed that they will continue fighting for justice.
“We have been doing this for the past eight years and we will continue for 100 years to come, till Beng Hock receives the justice that he deserves,” said Samad, a national laureate who is more popularly known as Pak Samad.
The crowd remained in their seats as the programme continued with a forum called “Reforming MACC: A road to good governance and human rights” – a topic closely related to the tragedy.
Present at the forum was Bersih 2.0 chairperson Maria Chin Abdullah, Malaysian Bar president George Varughese, Hulu Klang assemblyman Saari Sungib and board member of the Beng Hock activist group Ngeow Chow Ying.
Maria admitted that she has slightly given up on the fight for reformation, considering how tough it has been for the past 30 years from her own experience fighting for the cause.
“To be honest, I have given up a little bit. Unless more people step forward and demand for reform, then it is very hard to achieve,” she said.
Maria added that it is more challenging when there is no response from MACC or the government with regard to the proposal to create an independent anti-corruption commission .
Varughese claimed that it has been two years since they submitted a proposal to reform MACC into an independent entity.
The proposal was submitted to the MACC on July 28, 2015, and to the Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of governance and integrity, Paul Low, in November 2015.
However, Saari claimed that reforming MACC is impossible without a change of government.
“I believe MACC cannot be reformed. The only change that can happen is when the government is changed,” he said.
Prior to the memorial service and forum on July 7, activists, including Beng Hock’s younger sister Teoh Lee Lan and 30 of Beng Hock’s supporters, gathered outside the home ministry, claiming that MACC was being selective when investigating its cases.
They criticised MACC’s handling of the deaths of Beng Hock and customs officer Ahmad Sarbani Mohamed, as well as how it dealt with investigations into the RM2.6 billion reported “donation” that was banked into the prime minister’s personal account.
Being Hock was found dead on July 16, 2009, having fallen from a window of the MACC office in Shah Alam after having been taken there for questioning the night before.
Sarbani, who was being investigated in relation to a money-laundering syndicate, was found dead on April 6, 2011, after having fallen from the MACC building in Kuala Lumpur.
The group also wanted MACC chief commissioner Dzulkifli Ahmad to explain what actions were taken against the officers who were implicated in the deaths of Beng Hock and Sarbani.
Although Dzukifli was invited to address unanswered questions at the forum organised yesterday, however, he was not present at the event.