Teoh Beng Hock’s family suit put off pending Court of Appeal outcome

A negligence suit brought by the family of Teoh Beng Hock against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) has been postponed pending the Court of Appeal’s decision whether the former political aide had died due to foul play or he had committed suicide.

Lawyer Gobind Singh Deo (pic) said High Court Judge Rosnaini Saub allowed the application by the family as the Court of Appeal decision may have a bearing on the suit. Rosnaini fixed April 29 for case management.

The decision of Court of Appeal will be final and conclusive as the appeal originated from an inquest before a coroner.

Senior Federal Counsel Azizan Md Arshad and Gobind met Rosnaini in her chambers to postpone today’s proceedings.

The family had filed the suit against the MACC and 12 others in February last year for assault and occupier’s liability.

Beng Hock’s father, Teoh Leong Hwee, his mother, Teng Shuw Hoi, his widow Soh Cher Wei  and their son Teoh Er Jia are seeking damages for their sadness, loss of dependency and negligence on the part of the defendants.

So far, 13 witnesses have given evidence for the family.

“Whether we are going to call more witnesses depends on the Court of Appeal ruling,” Gobind told reporters.

Azizan also said whether the defence would call three doctors to give their expert opinions depended on the final outcome at the appellate court.

A three-man bench chaired by Datuk Mohamad Arif Md Yusof will hear the appeal on March 28.

Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas had returned an open verdict on January 5, 2011, saying it was neither a suicide nor a homicide.

Teoh, who was the political aide to Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on July 16, 2009 on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam.

He was at Plaza Masalam where he was summoned by the MACC to have his statement recorded over his boss’s alleged abuse of state funds.

On December 1, 2011, the High Court in a revision, upheld the coroner’s open verdict in the inquest to ascertain the circumstances leading to Teoh’s death.

Both the coroner and the High Court found there were pre-fall injuries on Beng Hock’s neck but concluded that there was insufficient evidence to point towards assault. – February 7, 2014.

Teoh Beng Hock case: Appeals Court judges to visit interrogation room

PUTRAJAYA: Three Court of Appeal judges, in an unprecendented move, will visit the interrogation room in which Teoh Beng Hock was alleged to have fallen to his death in 2009.

The request was made by the judges panel chaired by Datuk Mohamad Arif Md Yusof today during a hearing application brought by Teoh’s family against the coroner’s court open verdict decision in the inquest into the death of Teoh.
During submissions by counsel Gobind Singh Deo, Arif questioned whether there was a need to inspect the site to get a better understanding of the matter.
To this, Gobind said he would gladly accommodate if the judges wished to inspect the place.
The visit will take place prior to the continued hearing which was fixed for March 28.
During submissions, Gobind argued that the coroner’s court in making a finding of homicide in an inquest does not require to apply for test of beyond reasonable doubt.
As such, he said the coroner’s court can give an opinion for the police and Attorney-General’s chambers to further investigate whether Beng Hock’s death was a suicide or homicide.
Deputy public prosecutor Kee Wei Loon appeared for the prosecution on behalf of DPP Abaszafree Mohd Abbas.
The court was informed that Abaszafree was absent due to personal unforeseen circumstances.
Arif was joined by Datuk Mah Weng Kwai and Datuk Dr Hamid Sultan Abu Backer on the bench.
On Feb 10, 2012, Beng Hock’s elder brother Meng Kee filed an application at the Court of Appeal to review the open verdict delivered by the coroner’s court in January 2011, after his application was rejected by the High Court on December 1, 2011.
On January 5, 2011, coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas, when delivering his open verdict, said Beng Hock’s death was not due to suicide, neither did it involve a third party.
A few months later, a Royal Commission of Inquiry into Beng Hock’s death, chaired by now-retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen, ruled on July 21 last year, that it was a suicide.
Teoh, the political secretary to Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, was found dead on the fifth floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam, Selangor, on July 16, 2009, after giving a statement at the office of the Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission located on the 14th floor of the same building.

Unsettled court matters will not make Teoh Beng Hock case go away

PETALING JAYA: It was possibly one of the most widely publicised and politicised cases of the last decade in Malaysia, and it is still talked about today primarily due to unsettled matters pending in court.

Memories of Teoh Beng Hock still linger on with the ongoing trial as the Court of Appeal had adjourned to Jan 23 the hearing of an appeal against the coroner’s court open verdict decision into the death of Beng Hock due to an incomplete record of appeal.

It was reported on Nov 19 this year where Court of Appeal judge Datuk Balia Yusof Wahi, who chaired a three-member panel, allowed the adjournment after the Teoh family’s lawyer Gobind Singh Deo informed the court that there were some documents and exhibits missing from the appeal record.

On the morning of July 16, 2009, Beng Hock was found dead while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) after being questioned by MACC officers over an alleged corruption case involving Selangor state executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah.

The body of the 30-year-old was found sprawled on the fifth floor of the Plaza Masalam building in Shah Alam.

The Teoh family is also taking up a civil suit against the MACC and the government for the commission’s failure to give an explanation over the death.

In the suit, the family said that the MACC officers had wrongly attacked Beng Hock, causing him fear, torment, extreme distress and apprehension of immediate physical violence.

Beng Hock was the political aide to Ean and the deceased’s family and friends had in 2011 demanded the resignation of the DAP Seri Kembangan assemblyman, saying the latter was also responsible for Beng Hock’s death.

It was reported that one angry Allan Liew Sin Kim claimed that Ean had acted indecisively towards Beng Hock and did not help to seek justice for his death.

In an interview with theantdaily, Beng Hock’s youngest sister Lee Lan said although four years had passed since the death of her brother, Ean has not been in touch much with her family.

“No, we have not heard from him, every year he holds a memorial for Beng Hock and that’s about it,” she said dejectedly.

Asked what made her brother join politics after working as a journalist with a Chinese newspaper Sin Chew Daily, Lee Lan said Beng Hock was influenced by the 2008 political tsunami.

“When Ean approached him to become his political aide after Pakatan Rakyat took over the Selangor government, he accepted.

“I remember him coming home saying that he was very happy with the political changes in the country.

“For once, he felt there was hope for change as Pakatan Rakyat had formed the state government in Selangor after the 2008 general election,” Lee Lan recalled.

Beng Hock was also asked by Ean to take up the offer to be his political aide.

Beng Hock’s family was not against his decision to take up the post but had expressed concern for his safety as he would be working for an opposition political party which could put him in danger.

According to Lee Lan, Beng Hock assured them that there was nothing to worry about as he would be working for the state government.

Meanwhile, Lee Lan said all the family wants now is justice for their brother and to really know what happened to him while being questioned in the MACC office.

Previously, it was reported that the MACC had set up a special investigation team to investigate three of its officers who were found to have violated regulations during the interrogation session.

The commission was reported to have said in a statement that it received and viewed seriously improvement suggestions as outlined in the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) Report.

When delivering his open verdict on Jan 5, 2011, coroner Azmil Mustapha Abas ruled that Beng Hock’s death was not due to suicide.

A few months later, however, an RCI into his death chaired by retired Federal Court judge Tan Sri James Foong Cheng Yuen ruled on July 21 that it was a suicide.

Lee Lan said Beng Hock’s case is still remembered because people support justice and many know what happened to him when he was interviewed by the officers.

“Many people told me this was a murder case. I had visited many doctors and when they found out who I was, they extended their support to me.”

“I think many people remember my brother because of the way he died and not because he was involved in politics and also the fact that the government was trying to make people forget the case,” added Lee Lan.

Tomorrow: Moving on is tough, says Teoh Beng Hock’s family

Moving on is tough for Teoh Beng Hock’s family

PETALING JAYA: The family of Teoh Beng Hock tries to move on and get on with life but his mysterious death still lingers in their mind every single day even four years after he had passed away.

All the family wants now is to seek justice for Beng Hock over his death while in the custody of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).

In this second and final part of an exclusive interview with theantdaily, Beng Hock’s sister Lee Lan admitted that the family still has difficulty in moving on and continues to have sleepless nights over his death.

“We are still fighting no matter how hard it is. The fact that the government tries to cover up the case makes us more determined. We will pursue the matter until we find out exactly what happened to my brother at the MACC office.

“Our lives are still not quite as normal as we have to go to court frequently because there are still two cases pending,” she explained.

“My parents still live in pain. They cannot sleep well as they continue to feel something was missing.

“We try to help them pass the days by taking them to visit my sister in Singapore and Beng Hock’s son and wife in Batu Pahat,” said Lee Lan.

Asked about Beng Hock’s son, Teoh Er Jia, who is now four years old, Lee Lan said he is growing up well and lives with his mother Soh Cher Wei in Johor.

When asked if the boy queried about his father, Lee Lan said, “From his mum, we know when people asked him about what he thinks of his father, he tells them, my father is black.”

“We always wear black badges, t-shirts alongside banners, magazines which have Beng Hock’s photo in the middle whenever we campaign for him. This is how he thinks of his father.”

“When he was one, I remember that Er Jia used to call my elder brother Meng Kee ‘father’. That was during the time when he just started to talk. Whenever Meng Kee came home from work, he would greet him as ‘papa’,” Lee Lan said.

The 33-year-old sister, who is now happily married, also recalled the days Beng Hock went about preparing for his wedding with his then girlfriend Cher Wei.

When he found out that Cher Wei was pregnant, he had asked their mother to look after the child after birth.

“He was very close to my mother and in his last days, he used to call her asking if she could look after his unborn baby to which my mother willingly said she would.

“Days before he died, we were busy preparing for his wedding. We were getting the house done up for him, getting his room painted.

“I remember calling Beng Hock to ask him just weeks before Chinese New Year what colour he would like for his room.”

Lee Lan also said on the days leading to his tragic death, Beng Hock used to call his mother to ask what food was best suited for his wife during pregnancy.

Asked what were the last words her brother told her before he was found dead, Lee Lan said, “We met on July 11 and July 12 that year for the last time. We were having dinner and Beng Hock was chatting about his coming wedding and happily looking forward to his big day.”

“He and Cher Wei had asked me to help in selecting the wedding gown. He was very cheerful and happy at that time…that was the last time I saw him,” said a tearful Lee Lan.

Saying that she was very close to her brother, Lee Lan recalled with pain how she was just lost for words and felt the world crumbling the day her family had to identify Beng Hock’s body.

“It was very cruel when we were initially told that Beng Hock had committed suicide by jumping off the building.

“Beng Hock was a ‘happy go lucky’ chap and he was a particularly happy man at that time with his wedding and a baby on the way. No one in my family has a history of suicide.”

Asked how life has changed for her since Beng Hock’s death, Lee Lan said it was hard being the family’s spokesperson in court as well as handling the media.

“I was working as an accounts auditor at the time of Beng Hock’s death. I took nine months off to deal with matters pertaining to the court case.

“Now I’m working as a senior executive in a company. When I went for the interview for my current job, I told the management that I would have to take long leave to deal with my brother’s court case. I’m so fortunate that my current bosses understand my situation.

“Although I’m married now, I will still go on fighting for my brother even if it means putting my career on hold”, she said.

This is one sister who truly loved her brother dearly.

‘Death in custody’ civil suit dismissed

KUALA LUMPUR: The High Court of Kuala Lumpur today dismissed a civil suit filed by the late R Gunasegaran’s sister, against several police officers and the Malaysian government for his wrongful death on the evening of July 16, 2009 at the Sentul police station.

Based on a written judgment by Judge Yeoh Wee Siam, the court found the defendants not liable based on the balance of probabilities in view of the case circumstances, the defendants are also not entitled to any costs.

“Based on the grounds of judgment the court is satisfied, on a balance of probabilities, that the defendants are not liable, therefore the plaintiff is not entitled to the damages claimed,”

“The court does not think that the defendants are entitled to any costs and therefore there is no Order as to costs,” Yeoh said.

Meanwhile the family’s lawyer M Visavanathan told reporters after the verdict that he was disappointed with court’s ruling and might consider to make an appeal against the decision.

“I am disappointed with the decision but I respect it as they have made its finding. We can apply for an appeal but a discussion with the family is needed before I can comment further,” he said.

Visavanathan then questioned the authority on why there has been no action taken against the police officers involved during the alleged incident by adding that death in custody should have not happened in a developed country like Malaysia.

“Until today no action is being taken against the officers (even) when we have witnesses coming forward telling the court that they saw them (the police officers) beating Gunasegaran,”

“How can you call yourself a civilized nation when death in custody is still happening. Death in custody should have not occurred in this country,”

“People should feel safe going to a police station,” he shrugged.

On July 16, 2009, at about 3 pm, a team of police officers from the Sentul district police station carried out an anti drug operation in the Sentul Manis area.

Five persons including the deceased were arrested and brought back to the Sentul police station after being caught for allegedly being involved in dangerous drug activities.

The late Gunasegaran was required to undergo a urine test and documentation process but died while he was in the police station lockup .

According to the first autopsy report conducted by Hospital Kuala Lumpur stated Gunasegaran’s cause of death as a ‘Drug Related Death’.

Dissatisfied with the first post mortem report, a second post mortem was conducted by the University Malaya Medical Centre and their conclusion on the cause of death was documented as ‘Is consistent with the findings of the first post mortem’.

Yingluck and Najib must respond to allegation of banning Dr Pornthip

Joint Press Statement by Malaysians for Beng Hock and Suara Rakyat Malaysia (SUARAM) on 25 Nov 2013

Pertaining to the allegation that the Thailand and Malaysia government are prohibiting a key expert witness, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand, from entering Malaysia to testify in court, we urge the Thai Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra and her Malaysian counterpart Prime Minister Najib Razak to come clean by immediately and responsibly respond to such a serious allegation. The claim was made last Friday by the lawyer Gobin Singh of Teoh Beng Hock, the later is a well-known victim of State violence.

This is the second time in a year that the Malaysian government is being accused of prohibiting Dr Pornthip’s visit to provide her professional assistance or testimony to legal cases relating to state violence in the country. In February 2013, a lawyer of another victim of police violence, Sugumar, had also made a similar accusation against the two governments.

These governments must substantiate their reasons for undertaking such an action. Dr. Pornthip, who was the Director of Institute of Forensic Science under the Thai Ministry of Justice, had witnessed the second autopsy of Teoh Beng Hock’s body under the invitation from the Selangor State government and is therefore one of the key witnesses in this high profile case. Her findings have led her to deduce that Beng Hock could have been strangled during the interrogation period and that there is an 80% chance that Beng Hock was a homicide victim. Her conclusions have profound implications on the role and responsibilities of the MACC in the death of Beng Hock. Denying her testimony is therefore not only detrimental to the criminal justice system, but also to the integrity of the Malaysian government as a whole.

We regret at the disinterest displayed by the two governments in respecting the right of the victim’s family to a fair and equal trial. We urge Ms Yingluck, who had previously supported the Truth for Reconciliation Commission in finding truth about the violent clashes between the red shirt and the military in 2010, to draw back her government’s meddling hand from Dr. Pornthip’s professional visit, and in doing so, respect and fulfil her government’s ‘primary responsibility’ as an ASEAN member state ‘to promote and protect all human rights and fundamental freedoms’ as required by article 6 of the ASEAN Human Rights Declaration in 2012.

We condemn the Malaysian government for, after failing to take action against the MACC officers involved in causing the death of Teoh Beng Hock as recommended by the Royal Commission of Inquiry, further impeding Teoh family’s every effort to seek justice and redress through judicial means. The impunity of state violence must end immediately. The government has to step up its accountability effort and uphold its integrity.

Tears flow at Beng Hock negligence suit

VIDEO l 1:10 mins

Emotions run high in the Kuala Lumpur High Court when Teoh Beng Hock’s fiancee took the stand today.

NONEWhen questioned by the family’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo on the marriage preparations prior to Teoh’s death, Sor Cher Wei, 32 (left), burst into tears.

High Court Judge Rosnaini Saub had initially tried to calm her down, but then ordered a 10-minute recess.

Teoh’s parents and younger sister, who were also in the courtroom, also failed to fight back tears.

Teoh’s family had filed a negligence suit against the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) and 13 others.

Several MACC officers, who were named as defendants, were also present.

Teoh, 30, who was political aide to a Selangor state  executive councillor, was found dead on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16 2009, after he was interrogated at the Selangor MACC office on the 14th floor of the same building.

Stressing her belief that Teoh did not commit suicide, Soh had regained her calm after the hearing resumed by 2pm.

She said that the family members had not recovered from their sorrow even though the incident happened four years ago, as they were still in the dark over Teoh’s cause of death.

“My son can no longer meet his father… he can only mention that ‘father is black’ now.

“This is because he sees the clothes that the family and I wear when we fight for justice for Teoh. And the clothes are all in black or white,” she said in her written statement.

Soh admitted that Teoh was happy but shocked upon learning about her pregnancy in June 2009, which was not planned.

To senior federal counsel Azizan Md Arshad’s suggestion that her pregnancy had caused Teoh emotional disruption, Soh agreed.

Subsequently, Teoh family’s counsel Gobind Singh Deo, in his examination, requested Soh to elaborate on this.

Soh explained that the emotional disruption was a “positive” one, as they had planned for marriage but not for having children.

NONELater, Gobind sought Judge Roshaini’s permission to call Teoh’s parents and younger sister to testify tomorrow, and several journalist on Friday.

Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand (right) is scheduled to be present as one of the plaintiff’s main witnesses, but Gobind had yet to reveal the date.

A ‘democracy school’ to remember Beng Hock

12:30PM Oct 25, 2013
A group of Malaysian social activists today opened a school as a tribute to the late Teoh Beng Hock, four years after his death, with the aim of making state violence and political persecutions a thing of the past.

‘Malaysians for Beng Hock’ coordinator Ng Yap Hwa said the movement hopes the Democracy Academy of Malaysia (DAM) can help to educate and empower citizens to actively participate in the civil rights movement.

NONETeoh, 30, who was political aide to a Selangor state executive councillor, was found dead on the fifth floor landing of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.

He was, until then, being interrogated by the Selangor office of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the 14th floor of the same building.

“Teoh Beng Hock symbolises the young generation rising to the political challenges and demands for a change in the general election in 2008,” Ng said in a statement.

“We firmly hold that social movements must continue with their mission to empower the people to bring about the democratic reforms that we so much desire.”

NONEDAM will conduct training programmes and workshops across the country on democracy and human rights. It is hoped that the graduates of these courses will become the drivers to further democratising Malaysia.

The advisers to the academy include veteran social activists such as Abdul Samad Said (Pak Samad), Ong Boon Keong, Dr Wong Chin Huat and Dr Toh Kin Woon, Ng (right) said.

Five short courses – Education for Democracy, Community Organising, Introduction to Political Economy, Understanding Draconian Laws and Your Rights and the Basics of Child Rights Convention – have planned to kick off DAM’s acitivities.

Details of the training can be obtained from its Facebook site.

Source : Malaysiakini