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.