Malaysia

MACC man watched porn in office, says RCI

By Boo Su-Lyn
March 31, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, March 31 — An anti-graft officer watched pornography in his office after interviewing Teoh Beng Hock, the royal commission of inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh’s death said today.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong said Selangor Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) assistant superintendent Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus had viewed pornography on his computer in the wee hours of July 16, 2009.

“After he interviewed Teoh Beng Hock, he viewed pornography on a website,” said Foong at the inquiry today.

“An important operation is going on (and) an officer is viewing porn even though there’s a government directive forbidding this,” added the sitting Federal Court judge.

Ashraf testified recently that the police had suspected him of killing Teoh.

He has also admitted that nine MACC suspects had accused him of abusing them.

Ashraf has said he and another MACC officer, Arman Alies, had interviewed Teoh from 10.30pm on July 15, 2009 to 12.30am the following day.

Teoh’s body was found hours later on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after the interview at the then-Selangor MACC headquarters on the 14th floor.

The anti-graft officers were investigating a claim that Teoh’s boss, Ean Yong Hian Wah, was abusing state funds.

Ean Yong is a Selangor state executive councillor and Seri Kembangan assemblyman from the DAP.

Ashraf, however, has denied roughing up Teoh.

“Do you know that Ashraf had downloaded pornography at 1.20am on 16th July 2009 when an operation was going on?” asked Foong.

Foong did not reveal how he received such information, but he had recently ordered the seizure of the computers of several MACC officers, who were involved in the investigations on the night of July 15 2009.

But Negeri Sembilan MACC director Hishamuddin Hashim, who was the Selangor MACC deputy director in 2009, said he was not authorised to punish his former subordinate for viewing smut.

“It’s beyond my scope of powers... This is not a question of work,” said Hishamuddin.

“If officers go and steal, it’s not your problem? How can you say that? You must take care of all your officers,” admonished Foong.

“This is a personal matter,” replied Hishamuddin, 46.

“So if they use force, you don’t want to know?” asked Foong.

Foong said Ashraf had been singled out in police identification parades 13 times based on information received by the commission.

Foong also read out a few reports yesterday dated February 2009 and February 2010 that the commission had received, where Ashraf was accused of slapping, punching and kicking people.

Hishamuddin stressed that he needed to know if his officers used force in their interrogations.

“But at that time... I had more important work,” said Hishamuddin.

Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee said, however, that a poison pen letter had accused Hishamuddin of using force during interrogations.

“It is stated that you have a trademark technique when interrogating witnesses,” said Cheow.

“You hold their belt from the front, hold them up and shake them,” he added.

“That’s slander,” said Hishamuddin, who has served the national anti-graft body for 19 years.

“You can call all the witnesses I interviewed,” he added.

Commissioner Datuk T. Selventhiranathan said yesterday there were 59 police reports against the MACC nationwide, of which 21 were against the Selangor branch.

Hishamuddin, who was dressed in a black suit and pale pink shirt, reiterated today that the MACC did not use force in its interrogations.

“It’s a very harmonious, polite atmosphere to get testimonies on what really happened,” said the moustachioed officer.

The senior graftbuster also claimed ignorance of police reports against his officers.

“The complaints were not addressed to me. I don’t know anything,” said Hishamuddin.

When asked if he investigated the complaints against Ashraf, Hishamuddin said: “I just asked in general. I let the police do investigations.”

Hishamuddin said he was holed up in his room in his office until about 5.45 am on July 16, 2009, while his subordinates were questioning Teoh and about four other witnesses.

Cheow asked if the MACC practised interrogation techniques like forcing witnesses to stand in a dark room without moving, blindfolding them, kicking chairs and tables in front of them and playing the good cop, bad cop routine.

The lawyer said one of the witnesses who was interviewed that night, Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah, claimed his interrogators used some of the techniques mentioned.

Hishamuddin denied that the national anti-graft body practised such methods.

“I’ve been an investigation officer the last 17, 16 years. I’ve never heard of such techniques,” said the curly-haired graftbuster.

He also said the MACC had not closed its case against Ean Yong, but classified it as “keep in view”.

“If there are other testimonies, investigations can be continued,” said Hishamuddin.

The inquiry resumes this Saturday with Hishamuddin and Thai forensic pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand on the witness stand.