Press Statement by Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy on 7 August 2015

In response to the current 1MDB political fiasco involving Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC), Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy calls upon the Malaysian public to demand a thorough reform of the MACC, so that the institution may be independent, accountable and effective in fighting graft, as well as safeguarding human rights, instead of being a tool of selective prosecution.

On top of supporting the MACC to carry out its task on 1DMB and fence off the Police’s institutional assault, the public pressure should also mount to demand the body to be made answerable to the Malaysian Parliament rather than, as at present, being placed under the Prime Minister’s Department.

Since its inception under former Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi, the MACC has had its image tarnished by its own misconduct and failures in several high profiles cases.

The most shocking and outrageous one saw the killing of political aide of Selangor Exco Teoh Beng Hock in July 2009 after a torturous 11-hour detention at the MACC Selangor headquarters.

Teoh was only a witness to the investigation against his boss Ean Yong Hian Wah.Not only never owning up its responsibility in Teoh’s death as an institution, MACC even promoted two officers involved in his investigation and implicated for causing his death.

Earlier in January the same year, an UMNO Maran division committee member Halimi Kamaruzzaman complained of being punched, kicked and even stripped naked during his four-day detention at the MACC Pahang headquarters. To force him to admit his alleged involvement in money politics in UMNO party election, Halimi alleged that an MACC officer even threatened to arrest his wife and make her strip.

In the current investigation against the PM Najib Razak by MACC, we saw the MACC officers being harassed, arrested and raided. We urge the Najib government to stop persecution of MACC officers.

As the Police has the worst record in custodial torture and deaths, public pressure is indeed necessary to ensure no MACC officers under the Police’s investigation will be subject to tortures and threats like what Teoh and Hilmi went through. We must in fact end torture by law enforcement agencies against any body.

Such concern however must not derail us from recognizing the role of MACC as a tool of both selective prosecution on graft and selective clearance of graft. Such “usefulness” is in fact the very reason why MACC officers are vulnerable to persecution and threat.

Just few days ago, the MACC by-passed the 1 Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) task force and unilaterally announced that the allegedly RM2.6 billion deposited to the PM Najib Razak’s bank account was a donation by an unnamed donor.

The deliberate and desperate move to clear Najib from the 1MDB probe — which happened after the Police’s arrest, interrogation and prosecution of MACC senior officers — is nothing new in the MACC’s history.

In November 2009, the MACC cleared both VK Lingam and Former Chief Justice Eusoff of any wrongdoing in the judicial scandal, even though all evidence shows that Lingam and Eusoff Chin and families’ holiday trip to New Zealand was paid by VK Lingam.

About the same time, MACC also cleared former Minister of Transport Chan Kong Choy from misconduct in the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, yet it said ‘Investigation still in progress’. The loss of public fund in the PKFZ land deal amounted to RM12.5 billion (nearly 30% of 1MDB’s scale),

In 2013, an international organization Global Witness exposed former Sarawak Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s family members explained that how Taib Mahmud needs to be granted 10 percent commission in major land deals in the state, yet the MACC failed to use such evidence to charge the powerful former chief minister.

The Malaysian public and civil society must therefore demand real reform to end the MACC’s shameful role as a window dressing of integrity which carries out selective graft prosecution and selective graft clearance.