Justice the only compensation for Beng Hock’s family

QUICK TAKE: At the end of the day, it is all about accountability.

Who were the persons responsible for Teoh Beng Hock’s death? Where are they now? What are they doing?

These are the main questions left unanswered even as the government on May 12 reportedly admitted to “negligence” on its part which resulted in death of the former aide to Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah – one day after he was called by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) to assist in investigations into allegations of abuse of state funds.

Beng Hock’s body was found on the fifth floor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam on July 16, 2009.

In this case, as rightly pointed out by Teoh’s younger sister Lee Lan, the legal settlement reached where the government agreed to pay the family RM600,000 in compensation is indeed a “bitter victory”.

“The law is mean. The calculation is not practical at all. This has shown that a life is equivalent only to RM600,000. Life is so cheap. I feel much regret about this,” she was quoted by Malaysiakini on May 13.

Lee Lan stressed that no amount of money can ease the pain of the family and so though they have decided to stop their civil suit against MACC, the fight to drag the “murderers” to justice will not end.

“Even if we (did not accept the compensation and) continue to fight, what we would have got is only money.

“A negligence civil litigation is about compensation in money and liabilities,” she was quoted as saying.

The family filed the suit in October 2012 against 10 MACC officers, the commission and the government for negligence and assault while Teoh was in their custody, which resulted in his death.

This followed the findings of a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) report into Teoh’s death in 2011 that had rapped the MACC for their harsh treatment of him although he had been called in to assist the investigations only as a witness.

In a landmark decision on Sept 5 last year, the Court of Appeal has set aside the coroner’s open verdict on Teoh’s inquest and ruled out suicide.

It was reported that the three-member panel led by Justice Mohamad Ariff Md Yusof unanimously held that Teoh’s death was caused by multiple injuries from his fall and “was accelerated by an unlawful act or acts of persons unknown, inclusive of MACC officers who were involved in his arrest and investigation”.

The inquest before Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas was held from between July 29, 2009, and Nov 4, 2010 after which the open verdict that “Teoh’s death was not due to suicide, homicide or third party involvement” was delivered on Jan 5, 2011.

As such, Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo in a statement said that the onus is now on the police to do what is necessary to ensure justice is served.

“Despite the agreement on the damages, Teoh’s family is pushing for those responsible for his death to be charged in accordance with criminal law,” said Gobind who is the family’s lawyer, after taking over the case from his late father, Karpal Singh.

Three judgements were delivered on the same Sept 5 decision and all of it recommended that the authorities investigate, identify and take action against the officers involved.

The admission of negligence and compensation paid to Beng Hock’s familyare not an excuse for authorities to absolve themselves of accountability for his death.

No amount of money can bring back their loved one and stern action must be taken to prevent others from suffering a similar fate.

13 May 2015 – theantdaily.com
Justice the only compensation for Beng Hock’s family


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