If there was no pressure from 100,000 petition signatures and 126 civil society groups, if there was no Tenang by-election, we doubt the Prime Minister Najib Razak would set up the royal commission to inquire into cause of death of Teoh Beng Hock.
The petition campaigns were held throughout peninsular Malaysia and went to the grass root level, it gave tremendous pressure to the PM because the movement was influencing public’s perception and impacting the credibility of the government.
On 11 Jan 2011, 126 multi-racial civil society groups rally behind the Teoh family after the coroner inquest delivered an open verdict, it shows public outraged over the sham royal commission that does not probe cause of death. Malaysians for Beng Hock had criticized the royal commission as “Using a leopard cat to exchange for the prince” (Chinese idiom : 狸猫换太子).
The Tenang by-election was from 22 Jan 2011 to 30 Jan 2011. The PM said that “Tenang by-election is bigger than Teoh Beng Hock” during his first visit to Tenang and addressing to a Chinese crowd. He then was under fire by opposition parties of such remark. The BN was worrying because the Chinese votes are in the favour of opposition.
The above 3 factors forced Najib Razak to make U-turn in a short 3-week time. The setting up of royal commission of inquiry is indeed a people’s victory.
Unfortunately, none of the commissioners were nominated by the Teoh family, the PM has done the selection without consulting the Teoh family, it is non transparent.
Furthermore, the application of high court review on inquest verdict while the royal commission is still going on has raised the eyebrow of the Teoh family and their lawyers.
When the royal commission chairman James Foong rejected the application of the Teoh family to replace the three conducting officers who are Attorney Chamber’s senior lawyers, that has become the last straw that broke the camel’s back, causing the Teoh family withdrew from the royal commission proceedings in disappointment.
The credibility of royal commission has suffered great damage because of pulling out of the Teoh family.