Malaysian Bar calls for Royal Commission of Enquiry

672 Malaysian Bar is disappointed that the Attorney-General’s Chambers has withheld a crucial document from the Coroner’s Court in the Teoh Beng Hock inquest.  The suppression of evidence, particularly in such a high profile matter, is disturbing, regardless of the reason.  This action is indicative of a serious lapse of judgment and undermines the proceedings of the inquest.

It is a fundamental tenet of the criminal justice system that all evidence must be disclosed, and made accessible to all parties, including evidence that is detrimental to the prosecution’s case.  Prior to the commencement of the inquest, the prosecution ought to have furnished to the defence and the Court all documents that are relevant and necessary for the Coroner to determine the cause of death based on all facts and evidence before the Court.  The principle of disclosure is aimed at ensuring that justice is served in all cases.

It is the duty of the court, and not of the prosecution, to determine the authenticity or relevance of any piece of evidence.  The prosecution is duty bound to uphold fairness and justice, which without doubt includes the full disclosure of all evidence uncovered during the investigation.  The failure to produce the document as soon as it was discovered raises misgivings about the credibility and fairness of the prosecution, and its poor judgment points to the lack of transparency.

Over one year after Teoh Beng Hock’s untimely demise, public confidence in the investigation and prosecution of the case remains low, and the credibility of the Malaysian criminal justice system is still very much in doubt.  The Malaysian Bar calls on all parties in the case, particularly the prosecution, to do their utmost to ensure that not only justice is done, but it is seen to be done.

We reiterate our longstanding call for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Enquiry (RCE) to investigate Teoh Beng Hock’s death.  The RCE should also examine the shortcomings within the criminal justice system, and ensure that protocols are introduced to guarantee full compliance with accepted norms of the criminal justice system.