Friday, February 25, 2011

Wee Choo Keong's Claims On The TBH Case

Readers who are following the TBH case will know by now that independant MP for Wangsa Maju Wee Choo Keong has claimed that the DAP not only knows Teoh committed suicide but is afraid of the RCI’s outcome.

The implications are enormous. Wee’s claims are horrifying if they are true.

The repercussions are enormous and far-reaching. We have always respected Karpal & now his son Gobind for fearlessly standing up for justice. If you have been wronged, who do you turn to? Karpal and Lee Lam Thye, right?

What does Wee’s statement mean? That Teoh Boon Hock’s family has been on an emotional gut-wrenching rollercoaster. This is the worst thing that can happen to the family. Imagine the emotional trauma of his aged parents. Worse, the family does not get closure because the lawyers perpetuate the fight, all for their own political machinations.

It does not take a genius to figure out that elections are expected to be around the corner. TBH’s family’s pain, bared for all to see, only comes to this. If suicide was a likely outcome, shouldn’t the lawyers have worked out something more humane along the likes of Teoh’s family wanting to get to the bottom of this and wanting the RCI to do its job without creating so much fanfare?

That will give the family much deserved dignity and be more gracious to the memory of TBH.

Let’s return to Wee, who said that murder by the MACC is ridiculous because TBH was their key witness. Why would they kill their key witness? Even if TBH was roughed up during questioning, why kill him? Roughing up & homicide are very different animals.

Logically, if the MACC had indeed done the dirty deed and wanted to dispose of him, why do so on their own doorstep? It was early morning, no one was around, and it would have been easy to take him to some nearby jungle and conveniently dispose of the witness.

According to insider sources from MACC who are equally perplexed about the matter, TBH was the one who requested for the interview after office hours even though the MACC told him that there would not be a full team on hand. He was also the one who insisted on completing the questioning even though it was in the early hours of the morning. After the questioning, he was the one who asked for a quiet place to rest.

TBH’s death is highly regrettable. We don’t know yet how he died but we should let his family who are still living maintain their dignity. They should not, under any circumstances, end up as political victims in their quest for answers to their son’s tragic death.

It is not only TBH’s family that seeks the truth. Malaysians of all walks of life seek the truth. The world at large seeks the truth. The only way we are going to find the truth is let the RCI do its work.

Dr Porntip and Prof Dr Peter Venezis have agreed to testify. Former Hong Kong Independant Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) Chief Investigator Briton Michael Leslie Squires, 59, (pic) has been appointed as Private Investigator with the authorority to search any premises and take possession of any articles or documents relating to the TBH investigation.

The RCI appears serious in its initiative. Let it get on with its responsibility. Let us not be swayed by politicians.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Life Sdn Bhd 6: Abuse

I have been taking part in a theatre production at Actors Studio this whole week. Its been so interesting working with Dato Faridah Merican, Jos Hasham and the very talented cast and crew. I am learning so much and thoroughly enjoying myself. Here's the official press release:

Every day we read or hear about sad, gory, despicable stories of abuse relating not only to humans but also to animals. It’s time to share some of these stories – all true – voiced by those who know best because they are closest to it. The 2011 installment of Life Sdn. Bhd. will be looking at abuse and the plight of the abused.

In a report by Women’s Aid Organisation, a shocking 39% of Malaysian women have been abused by their partners. In another report by UNICEF Malaysia, it states that an average of seven children in Malaysia were reported to be victims of abuse each day.

Of course, abuse on maids and migrant workers is also rampant. And let’s not forget abuse is not only confined to physical abuse but also mental and emotional abuse which can be equally harming. PAWS Project 575 highlights the fact that 575 animals are put down daily because they have nowhere to go.

The very first Life Sdn. Bhd. was started back in 2004 by Dato’ Faridah Merican. The beauty of it lies in its stripped down format where actors as well as non-actors share true stories, on stage, on issues that affect us living in Malaysia. We’ve done breast cancer in 2007. Tackled the HIV / AIDS epidemic in 2010. It was groundbreaking to say the least – nine individuals stepping on stage for the very first time to share their stories on HIV / AIDS.

Life Sdn Bhd 6: Abuse will be an equally thought-provoking and moving installment brought to you by Faridah. It will feature a specially-commissioned song by singer-songwriter Ian Chow entitled Lullaby.

Directed by Dato’ Faridah Merican

Artistic Director Joe Hasham OAM

Featuring Amelia Tan, Dave Avran, Ian Chow, Khairil M. Bahar, Malik Taufiq, Nitia, Nooreen Preusser, Rosheen Fatima, Shirin Jauhari, Stephanie, Susan Lankester, Tria Aziz, Veronica Ng & Will Quah

Date & Time 22 Feb @ 8.30pm (preview); 23 – 26 Feb @ 8.30pm, 27 Feb @ 3.00pm

Venue The Actors Studio @ Lot 10

Tickets RM33 / RM23 (students)

Promotion RM23 flat (preview)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry

What started as a lark has quickly become reality. Frustrated with not getting fair and impartial info on the Teoh Beng Hock case, I ran a quick survey on facebook. If I were to personally attend and report, would anyone of you be interested to read my findings?

I was floored by the amounts of “yes” answers. It looks like I’ll have to dig up the old video cam and scratch pad and be a man and keep my word. What was that saying again about being careful what you ask for?

I’m assuming that those who are following the case are relatively well informed of the cast and supporting characters, So here goes the first installment:

Datuk Seri Mohd Shafee Abdullah’s contention:

Today’s Star, Feb 18

Counsel appearing for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission Datuk Seri Shafee Abdullah explained that a revision was not like an appeal and once its done, even the A-G does not have the power to withdraw it.

The Star, Feb 17

Counsel Datuk Seri Shafee Abdullah, who is representing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission said that although the Teoh familys proposed application for a review was urgent and serious, he was concerned about the time frame as the commission had only three months to conclude the inquiry.

Shafie also said there were British precedent of sitting judges presiding over Commissions of Inquiry and Tribunals.

The Sun Daily, Feb 17

However, this was refuted by Datuk Seri Mohd Shafee Abdullah, who is acting for the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission. Mohd Shafee argued that any postponement would delay the inquiry, and that an appeal was sure to happen regardless of which party won the judicial review.

He said such hearings would push the commission hearings back by up to three months, and that any evidence in question could be disqualified should the High Court allow a review.

“There has always been a retired judge as chairman and that ought to be the position. That matter is compounded in our case as Mr Chairman is a sitting Federal Court judge,” he said.

The Sun Daily, Feb 17

This position was refuted by Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) counsel Datuk Seri Mohd Shafee Abdullah, who argued that withdrawing the revision is out of the A-G’s hands.

Shafee said it is left in the hands of the High Court to decide the merits of a revision.

"It is a process of invocation of the powers of revision, it is never our right. So nobody can ask for a withdrawal of a revision because it is now with the court," said Shafee.

Shafee, who defended the independence of the three officers, pointed out that the parties which withdrew did so out of their own free will.

My contention:

The RCI should proceed, should’nt it? The Malaysia public has a right to know the facts of the case, at the very least to decide for themselves what actually happened to TBH. The withdrawals by his family & the Selangor government should not affect the ongoing RCI

It’s has been a such week of drama. So much of media attention has been on walkouts and withdrawals that it seems that several participants of the RCI are bent on derailing the process and at the very least, can be said to be not very helpful to the process.

The good news is it looks like the RCI has actually gotten down to brass tacks very quickly and the machinery is in the works.

The accusations that the RCI is not impartial are beginning to be shown to be untrue. The withdrawals are immaterial – it just shows that the RCI is humane enough to allow the complainants, TBH’s family and the Selangor state government, to actively participate in the proceedings.

However, their withdrawal just means the opposite - that the family and the Selangor state government will not be able to participate in the process. It’s a loss to them, not the RCI.

A survey among legal academics and practicing lawyers indicates the withdrawal of TBH’s family from the participation in the RCI will not have any effect on the proceedings.

Associate Professor Dr Johan Shamsuddin of the Faculty of Law (University of Malaya) said that while the proceedings would go on as scheduled, the family would have lost a valuable opportunity to observe and pose questions at the hearing.

“The lawyers representing them should have advised them against the withdrawal but it appears they did not act in the best interest of their clients,“ he said.

TBH’s lawyers had also challenged that Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen should not preside as the RCI’s chairman as he is a sitting Federal Court judge. Again, more theatrics. To put things into perspective, Datuk Seri Mohd Shafee Abdullah, legal counsel for MACC explained that in previous British Royal Commissions of Inquiry, Law Lords had sat as panellists and chairmen, thereby setting the precedent.

At the same time, the RCI panel has decided to bring in Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand, Director of the Central Institute of Forensic Science, Ministry of Justice, Bangkok and British forensic expert Prof Dr Peter Vanezis as witnesses. How can the detractors still insist that the RCI is partial?

Hopefully, the drama will cease and the RCI be allowed to do its job. It’s got the mandate from the King and it has to deliver answers to the public and media, to you and to me by April 2011.

Latest update Sunday 20th Feb

click here for Star view

Although the departure of the Teoh family and the Selangor Government is regrettable, the task to find the truth is mandated by the law and commissioned by the King.

and here for the NST view

THE rejection by Teoh Beng Hock's family of the Royal Commission of Inquiry is unfortunate for it colours any further attempt to find the answer to his death. It would put in question any findings, even if it were to be homicide, since doubts have been cast on the whole process.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Traffic Offenders Hit In The Wallet

Ouch! Wallet busting news for traffic offenders from today's Star paper

PUTRAJAYA: Motorists will have reason to pay their traffic summonses promptly under a restructured system based on the principle of "the more you delay, the more you pay".

The Cabinet has approved the revised system under the Road Transport Act, which covers summonses for offences that do not contribute to high accident and fatality rate, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Kong Cho Ha.

Motorists would also not be issued with demerit points if they settle outstanding fines within three months, he added.

The restructured system will cover fines issued by all enforcement agencies, including the local councils and Road Transport Department (JPJ), from March 1, said Kong.

The offenses would be divided into four categories, based on the seriousness of the offenses, with compounds ranging from RM40 to a maximum of RM300.

There will not be any reduction in amount for the category involving serious offenses which cause accidents and deaths.

Fines will be maintained at RM300 (with no discounts) even if settled within 60 days, he told reporters after attending his ministry's Chinese New Year open house here yesterday.

These offenses include speeding; beating the traffic lights, overtaking on double lines, tailgating, queue jumping, overtaking in the emergency lanes and using mobile phones while driving.

The fines for offenses under the three other categories will depend on how quickly motorists pay their summonses, and how serious the offense are, he said.

Kong added that motorcycles below 250cc would be subjected to lower fines.

The payment period is divided into three stages. The first is from day one of the offense to the 15th day; the second from day 16-30, and the final time frame from the 31st day to the 60th day.

For offenses due to bad driving habits which increase the risk of accidents, a motorist will be fined RM150 if he pays within the first 15 days; RM200 (16 to 30 days) and RM300 (31 to 60 days) respectively.

For small capacity motorcycles, the fines are RM100, RM150 and RM250 for the same time frame.

The amount will be multiplied if offenses are committed three times or more within two months, Kong said.

He added that court action would be taken if fines are not settled within 60 days.

Teoh's family boycotts inquiry

The family of the late Teoh Beng Hock withdrew from participating in the Commission of Inquiry (CI) tasked with investigating the political aide's death after they failed to get it to stay its proceedings.

Lawyers Karpal Singh and Gobind Singh Deo, who are representing the family, also failed to get the CI's chairman Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen to recuse himself.

Karpal announced the family's withdrawal shortly after the CI shot down their request to postpone the proceedings pending a judicial review to be filed by the family to have the three conducting officers (CO) from the Attorney-General's Chambers (A-G's Chambers) senior federal counsel Amarjeet Singh and DPPs Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud and Kwan Li Sa who are assisting the commission dropped and replaced by independent COs.

The pain goes on: Beng Hock's mother Teng Shun Hor hugging his picture outside the High Court. With her are her husband Teoh Leong Hwee and son Teoh Meng Kee. (pic credit- Bernama)

We deeply regret that the material party has chosen to withdraw from the proceedings. But we have to do our task and complete it and be fair, said Foong.

Teoh's family had also wanted to apply for a judicial review on the commission's decision to go ahead with the proceedings in spite of a revision filed by the A-G's Chambers on the open verdict delivered at the inquest on Teoh's death.

The review filed by the A-G's Chambers will be heard at the Shah Alam High Court today.

We will not participate because we do not wish to lend credence to this proceeding, said Karpal before leaving the courtroom with Teoh's parents and siblings.

In asking Foong to recuse himself, Karpal said it was the right thing to do as the CI chairman was still a sitting judge.

He said that as a sitting Federal Court judge, it was only proper that Foong stepped down in light of the review applications.

The CI dismissed Karpal's request on the basis of insufficient grounds.

Counsel Datuk Seri Shafee Abdullah, who is representing the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission, said that although the Teoh family's proposed application for a review was urgent and serious, he was concerned about the time frame as the commission had only three months to conclude the inquiry.

Shafie also said there were British precedents of sitting judges presiding over Commissions of Inquiry and Tribunals.