Malaysia

Zahid: Don’t condemn MACC over mistakes of a few officers

KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi defended today the anti-graft body and said the public should not condemn the institution over the mistakes of a few officers.

“The government does not take sides of those who are in the wrong,” he said, referring to the public’s reaction to the recently made public report on the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) into the death of Teoh Beng Hock.

“SPRM (Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission) should not be accused as making a mistake but if there are SPRM officers involved, who had gone against the standard operating procedures, action should be taken against those officers, not accuse SPRM as an institution, to be blamed wholly.”

The defence minister was speaking to reporters after officiating the signing of a Memorandum of Understand and Memorandum of Agreement between Perhebat (Ex-Servicemen’s Affairs Corporation) and six other private companies here at the Ministry of Defence.

The RCI report, which was released on Thursday, ruled that the former DAP aide had committed suicide as a result of “aggressive, relentless, oppressive and unscrupulous interrogation” by Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers.

In particular, it named the then deputy director for Selangor MACC Hishammuddin Hashim, and enforcement officers Arman Alies and Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus.

The 21/2-year-old MACC announced on July 23 the suspension of the three officers pending an internal investigation into the RCI findings.

It also said that it “accepts and views seriously” the RCI’s findings, adding that it had moved to implement some of its recommendations. These included installing CCTVs, setting up “Video Interview Rooms (VIR)”, and ensuring that all individuals were dealt with on the ground floor and that they would be accompanied at all times.

“In (Teoh’s) case, the public should have faith in SPRM,” Ahmad Zahid said. “Do not question SPRM’s credibility but the individuals involved have to be taken disciplinary action either internally or legally.”

Teoh 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.

MACC has set up a panel to initiate reforms stemming from the Teoh RCI’s findings about its investigative methods.

There is also an ongoing inquest into the death of a second person while in the custody of MACC.

Former Customs officer Ahmad Sarbaini Mohamed, the Selangor Customs assistant director, was found dead after he was believed to have fallen from the pantry on the third floor of the new MACC office in Jalan Cochrane in Kuala Lumpur on April 6, and landed on the badminton court on the first floor.

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