Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Forum report: Penang for Beng Hock

A crowd of about 400 people packed the forum hall in the Han Chiang College in Lim Lean Teng Road, Penang on a lazy Sunday afternoon. It was a very encouraging support from Penangites for the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign.

A capacity crowd packed the hall on a Sunday afternoon
The panelists from left: Rama, Dr. Toh, Eng Kiat, Joseph and Nora
The speakers for the afternoon were:

• Ms Teoh Lee Lan (sister of Beng Hock)

• Mr. P. Ramakrishnan (President, Aliran)

• Dr. Toh Kin Woon (President, Lim Lian Geok Cultural Development Centre)

• Ms Nora Murat (Executive Director, Amnesty International Malaysia).

• Mr. Ng Eng Kiat (SUARAM) was the panel moderator.

There was also a group of 5 people from the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign who drove all the way up from KL for this event.

Yap Hwa: "Malaysians for Beng Hock" campaigner from KL

Lee Lan: "The family is fighting a lonely battle. We need your support".
Ms. Teoh Lee Lan conveyed her apologies for not being able to be present in person because of some urgent business at home. However a videotaped recording of her speech in Mandarin was played. Lee Lan gave an emotional and passionate appeal for justice for her brother. She narrated an account of the facts of the case. She said that her family has been facing all sorts of obstacles and setbacks all along the way. For example, steps to prevent Dr. Porntip from testifying, harassment and humiliation of Beng Hock and his family, deliberate delays to the hearing and withholding of evidences from the trial. Lee Lan said that Beng Hock was only a witness to an alleged corruption case involving slightly over RM2000 but he paid the price for it with his life. Lee Lan lamented that support for Beng Hock and his family is slowly waning and fewer and fewer people are attending the inquest. It is beginning to be a lonely fight for justice for Teoh Beng Hock. The authorities are deliberately delaying and prolonging the case with the hope that the public will lose interest and forget about it. Lee Lan said that her family does not need public sympathy but need our support. She said that the public can give their support by:

- Signing the on-line petition here.
- Attend public forums and help to spread awareness
- Show support by wearing the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign T-shirt on Saturdays and Sundays to remind people and to keep the campaign alive.
- Donate or volunteer for the “Malaysians for Beng Hock” campaign. The campaign website is here.
- Attend at least one of the hearings in KL to give the family support with our presence

 Mr P. Ramakrishnan raised several questions in his speech. He asked why was Beng Hock grilled non-stop for nearly 11 hours till about 3.45am in the morning when he was only a witness to an alleged corruption case involving slightly over RM2000? Is it believable that Beng Hock died without the knowledge of any MACC officers? There are far too many why, what, how and when in this case. Mr Rama said that important evidences have been clearly suppressed and the AG’s chambers has not acted in a transparent manner. The investigating officer has also given contradictory statements on the purported suicide note. The whole inquest is a sham and Aliran calls for the inquest to be disbanded and discontinued. A Royal Commission should be setup immediately to take over the case.
Ramakrishnan calls for the inquest to be discontinued and disbanded.

Ms Nora Murat said that there is an urgent need to transform the Police and enforcement units and their procedures. She questioned the transparency of the Police when there are so many deaths in police custody. She called for an immediate Royal Commission to investigate the cause of death of Teoh Beng Hock. The Commission must consist of a transparent committee comprising members with unyielding integrity. We cannot allow another Teoh Beng Hock case to happen ever again. Nora called on all civil society and members of the public to speak out and raise awareness.
Nora calls for the public to speak out.

Dr. Toh: Everyone must fight for a torture free society
Dr. Toh Kin Woon raised his concerns for justice for Teoh Beng Hock and all those who had died under Police custody. He is also concerned that the truth has not been told in the case. He urged everyone to fight for a torture-free society. We need to find the truth on who killed Teoh Beng Hock and why.

During the Q&A session, a member from the audience questioned the effectiveness of a Royal Commission. He reminded the panel that the IPMC and Lingam tape recommendations have still remained as recommendations up till today and the Federal Government does not seem to have the political will to do anything. One of the panel members replied that if the present Government does not want to change the system, then the Rakyat can change the Government in the next GE.

After the forum at the Han Chiang College ended, a group of supporters of “Malaysians for Beng Hock” brought the campaign to the Speakers’ Square. They spoke to a crowd of about 100 people gathered there. This was followed by a declaration of “Say Sorry Day” in support of the “Save Vui Kong” campaign.

"Malaysians for Beng Hock" campaign went to Speakers' Square
Dr. Toh addressing the crowd on "Say Sorry Day" in support of "Save Vui Kong" campaign
The attentive crowd listening to a speaker
And the ice cream vendor doing a brisk business.
More photos available here and here.
Photos courtesy of : Suarampg
Report compiled by: SH Tan


Changing the government is not the solution to all problems.

If the Pakatan is voted in, there is no guarantee that they won't be committing the same crime/ sins as the BN goons.

To want democracy, we must be willing to embrace change and sacrifice our complacency. We must aspire to achieve the democratic status as of the other nations around the world, who have practised transparency and strive to have an ideal system.

The problem with many Malaysians is while we shout and chant "demokrasi" on the streets, when someone points out the flaws of the Malaysian system, we go into defensive mode and say:" Well look at Australia/ US/ UK etc they too also have their flaws."

Until we acknowledge and admit our mistakes, and actively do something about it as a whole, then only can we change the system. It's no point just saying we want democracy when we are not willing to take a good hard look at our problems in Malaysia and make those drastic changes.

Many people just continue to defend that this is the system and that's our way of doing it. We are willing to roll over those big issues and mistakes and are not willing to listen to other viewpoints. Democracy comes with free speech. Free speech enables us to make the changes maturely. The citizens must also be able to handle democracy with maturity.

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