by the ghost of banquo, donplaypuks® intrepid correspondent for spirit-ual affairs
"Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble" so the coven of three witches in Shakespeare's 'Macbeth' chanted as they stirred and divined the boiling, steaming water and vapours to predict the spilling of blood and of teachery and death! But at least there we eventually get to know the whys and the wherefores.
But, one from among our cabal of learned judges recently made a startling ruling.
He decided that our de facto Law Minister was NOT in contempt of court for publicly condemning an expert witness "a liar" in the (forever) ongoing coroner's inquest into the "sudden death" of Teoh Boon Hock (TBH) while in the custody of Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
The learned judge felt that the Minister's utterances, though reported widely in the MSM and online news portals, were his private opinions and should not be confused with his usual sagacity, peerless wisdom and tact while boffing his official public hat.
Now how did the judge divine when a Minister is deemed to be wearing his private hat and when his public one? By stirring the cauldron?
It appears the judge was "persuaded" by the eleventh hour intervention of a Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) from the Attorney General's (AG) Chambers, a turban wallah who had argued the case for the Minister, and not as you would have expected, for the PUBLIC! Turban Wallah had waxed in scintillating casuistry that it was the internet newspaper which broke news of the Minister's gaffe which ought to be certainly charged with "something". Perish the thought that news agencies and online portals should merely report the truth, verbatim! Should they not have excercised, as in the era of ex-PM Mahathir, "voluntary censorship" and suppressed it or put a spin on it a la a certain $77 million government appointed international spindoctor outfit? How shameful!
In any event, this verdict, unless overruled by the Court of Appeal or Federal Court, has opened the floodgates for anyone able to string two sentences together, to criticize and pass opinion on any judge, AG, DPP, lawyer/solicitor and witnesses during any ongoing trial, by claiming "it's only my private hat/madcap opinion"!!
To recap briefly, in July 2009, MACC had been investigating allegations that several DAP assemblymen had corruptly accepted kickbacks by submitting fictitious claims amounting to several millions of dollars for community welfare projects. TBH, an ex-journalist and personal aide to DAP Selangor Assemblyman Ean Yong had gone to MACC's 15th floor offices in Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam, Selangor on 15th July 2009 to assist them as a witness. In Ean Yong's case the matter under MACC's scrutiny was a stupendous claims invoice for $2,000. TBH's dead body was found on a 5th floor roof of Plaza Masalam at 1.30 p.m. on 16th July 2009, with clear evidence he had exited MACC's offfice via their 15th floor office window, the broken latch of which was found next to his body!!
Matters have been somewhat thrown into confusion with one foreign expert pathologist, Dr. Pornthip Rojanasunand from Thailand testifying that there was an 80% probability TBH was killed. This led to a second post mortem and MACC appointing UK pathologist Professor Dr.Peter Vanezis as an expert witness.
Vanezis, with over 25 years experience and impressive qualifications and credentials (he had testified at Princes Diana's death inquest) testified that the evidence did NOT indicate TBH had been manually strangled to death, there were no pre-fall injuries and that he had been fully conscious as he exited the MACC office window and fell to his death. This favours the voluntary suicide hypothesis, though Vanezis admitted he coud not rule out that TBH could have been semi-conscious as he fell.
So, where do we stand on TBH's cause of death, almost 12 month's after his demise?
Firstly, we can safely rule out that either Pornthip or Vanezis were "bought" to give contradicting testimonies. I firmly believe these are professionals who would never stoop so low as to ruin their sterling integrity and reputations. Cases of expert witnesses differing in their conclusions in the same case are legion, but does little to resolve the issue at hand.
So, we must look elsewhere for guidance.
I am reminded of a 1980's UK tax evasion case involving a firm called Rossminster Limited. Rossminter was so brilliant at exploiting tax law loopholes and concocting elaborate tax avoidance schemes using offshore tax havens that the Inland Revenue Board eventually invoked its draconian powers to raid all their offices and cart away some 40 lorry loads of documents and files. This led to Rossminster closing down its business permanently, even though the IRB did not subsequently charge then with a single offence!!
In one of the earlier cases where the IRB had taken Rossminster to court, it was obvious the prosecution team did not have a clue which laws, if any, Rossminster had transgressed in a transaction where the money trail traced a path from local charities, dividend payments and rapid company liquidations in tax havens in Jersey, Cayman Island, Bahamas, Guernsey, Netherlands and all over the world resulting in tax savings amounting to hundreds of millions of $ for their client.
There is a fine line between tax avoidance (legal) and tax evasion (illegal). The law also clearly says no person is bound to legally arrange his tax affairs in such a manner as to pay the maximum amount of tax to the Govt!! Faced with this huge dilemma, the honourable judge made a famous decision.
His view was that if you removed all the smokescreens, red herrings, debris and dust from the transaction, it was clear that the sole purpose of Rossminster's artificial paper shuffling was to pay as little or no tax at all. In fact no funds had actually physically left London, but the virtual convoluted money path was perfectly recorded according to statutes by the world's leading expert in screwing the Govt and making the rich, even richer!!
Here's how I will apply the Rossminster case to Teoh Boon Hock.
Let's remove everyone else from the case - coroner, lawyers, MACC, expert pathologits, the whole jingbang lot. What's clear is that prior to his death TBH was:
1. securely employed by DAP Assemblyman Ean Yong who would have taken good care of his bright prospects and future.
2. a happy 30-year old young man in the prime of his life.
3. planning to register his marriage to his fiance on 17th July 2009.
4. not considering evading his responsibilities to his fiance who was pregnant with their child.
5. planning to have a proper Chinese wedding later in 2009 and had openly discussed it with his parents, family, future in-laws and friends, one of whom had already been appointed his best man.
6. fully supported by his parents and family for his wedding expenses (and besides the ang pows in a chinese weddings would usually result in a profit for the happy couple).
7. present at MACC's offices voluntarily as a witness and not a suspect, having gone there with laptop, records and a promise of returning the next day with more files from his office for a transaction of a puny $2,000!!
8. not suffering from insanity or any mental depression or had ANY history of it whatsoever.
One only has to witness the forlorn figures of TBH's parents and family present every day at the coroner's inquest and seeking justice to tell you they KNOW suicide was impossible for their son!! There is also that suspicious testimony of a trained and experienced MACC Investigating Officer (IO) at the death scene, inexplicably panicking and dashing off to his HQ in Putrajaya to meet his superiors for several hours of discussions, consultation and instructions??!!
Given these FACTS, does it stand to reason TBH would have voluntarily committed suicide, at of all places in MACC's offices? Why didn't he call his parents/fiance or go home immediately as any person would normally have, after 3.45 a.m. when the MACC says they released him? And if he was released why were his car keys still in the MACC's possession? Something doesn't quite gel in this reported version and sequence of events!!
There have been insinuations by scurillous bloggers that TBH's fiance was actually expecting Ean Yong's child. Another alleged TBH had been having an affair with an old school friend. That's all been superbly substantiated by nothing more than "info from anonymous sources"??!!
Some suggested that TBH had only a couple of thousand $ in his bank account, was overwhelmed with depression about it while at MACC's offices, and so jumped to his death!! This really defies belief in a country where routinely 21-25-year olds get hitched without the benefit of 2 fifty cent coins in their pockets and father 3-5 children within 5-7 years of marriage!! Young love and sex pull factor will brook no opposition. Did anyone investigate to find out out if he had investments in fixed deposits, the share market or had placed a downpayment for a new house/home seeing as to how he was soon going to start a happy family? (Recent testimonies in the separate cases of top cop Ramli Yusof, lawyer Rosli Dahlan and two jumping "frogs" in Perak suggest MACC's investigative techniques often range from perfunctory to downright shoddy!!).
Anothe blogger's hypothesis is that TBH was undone by a Triad/underworld linked witness/assemblyman (or possibly two) who had also been called to MACC's offices and who was/were also present there in the early hours of the morning of 16th July 2009. This is a combination of codswallop, cockamania and pure bollocks!!
Firstly, all these witnesses were there at MACC's offices at one and the same time by pure chance, not deliberate design. The witnesses were (presumably) not informed in advance by MACC about who would or would not be there! And it would take a remarkably cold, calculating, brilliantly spur of the moment improvising and seasoned assassin of 007 calibre to carpe diem and off TBH right there in MACC's fortress lair, carefully engineer his exit out the interrogation room window, walk away unseen and undetected by MACC staff, security cameras, guards and the general public within the building and its concourse!! Off him for what? An unproven iffy $2,000 offence by his boss?
There's not even an iota of logical evidence to hint at the voluntary suicide hypothesis!
That being the case, then the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that TBH died from non-voluntary cause (s).
That's not to suggest that anyone indulged in cold premeditated murder. But things have been known to get out of hand during long interrogations, especially where the alleged primary objective is to topple a state government and clueless witnesses are unreasonably suspected of engaging in cat-and-mouse stonewalling tactics!! The ongoing trial of a police officer charged with the death-in-custody of Kugan is possibly one such classic case; there are possibly over 2,000 such cases where statutory mandatory inquests have never been held, as revealed at the 2007 concluded Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the Independent Police Complaints and Misconduct Commission (IPCMC)!!
So, my dear honourable judge/coroner, custodian of law and order and truth and justice, start from the obvious and work upwards or it will come to haunt you forever!
There's not a ghost of a chance Teoh Boon Hock voluntarily jumped to his death.
donplaypuks® with ghosts, man!!