A respected former senior judge has branded the three judges on the Teoh Beng Hock royal commission of inquiry (RCI) “three blind mice” for concluding that the political aide committed suicide despite lacking expert opinion.
Former High Court and Court of Appeal judge Datuk N. H. Chan said the commission had “no business” forming such an opinion as none of the experts it called upon gave the opinion that Teoh committed suicide.
He pointed out that this went against Section 45 of the Evidence Act 1950, which states that when a court has form an opinion on a point of science, the opinions of experts are relevant facts. “Without any relevant fact, that is to say, without an opinion from an expert, a court is unable to form an opinion upon... the scientific point that Teoh Beng Hock took his own life. In this case, none of the experts gave the opinion that Teoh took his own life,” Chan said in an essay sent to The Malaysian Insider.
“The commissioners must not substitute their own opinion for that of the experts! Yet this was precisely what the RCI did! By assuming the mantle of a forensic psychiatric expert it came to the conclusion that Teoh took his own life.”
He added that the finding that Teoh was driven to suicide after relentless questioning from Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers was also unfounded, and lamented the fact that the public still did not know how the political aide died.
The RCI unanimously ruled that Teoh, aide to Selangor executive councillor and Seri Kembangan assemblyman Ean Yong Hian Wah, committed suicide as a result of pressure from aggressive and continuous questioning by anti-graft officers.
The five-man panel wrapped up its report on June 15 after having heard testimony from 70 witnesses in its bid to unravel the mysterious circumstances behind Teoh’s death.
The 30-year-old DAP political aide was found dead on July 16, 2009 on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he was questioned overnight by MACC officers at their then-Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor.
The coroner’s inquest had in January returned an “open verdict” ruling out both suicide and homicide some 18 months after Teoh’s death.
The government was then forced to establish the RCI, which first met in February, with two terms of reference: to probe how Teoh plunged to his death and to look into MACC’s investigative methods.
Teoh’s family has rejected the commission’s verdict and are currently mulling a judicial review of its findings.
Read former Court of Appeal Judge Datuk NH Chan's article, "If you put the cart before the horse"