Writing expert unable to positively identify note’s author
SHAH ALAM, Oct 22 — A government handwriting expert told the coroner’s court today there were not enough Chinese characters to establish the identity of the author of a mystery “goodbye” note, said to be from Teoh Beng Hock’s bag, but added a high likelihood it was penned by the dead political aide.
Chemist Wong Kong Yong had been given the job in October last year to compare the mainly Chinese writing and signature in the undated mystery note to Teoh’s handwriting in Chinese characters and Roman letters from several samples also said to be taken from the latter’s bag, including a notebook, a cash voucher and Visa card.
Wong told the inquest the Roman letters in the mystery note and Teoh’s materials were highly similar, but could not say the same for the Chinese characters.
“The Bahasa Malaysia handwriting on document ‘BH 1’ [referring to the mystery note] showed similar handwriting characteristics as the English handwriting on document ‘BH 5’
“There were insufficient corresponding Chinese characters for comparison between the Chinese handwritings on cash voucher ‘BH 6’ and on document ‘BH 1’.
“As such, I am unable to ascertain whether or not these handwritings were written by the same person,” he told the court today, reading from two prepared reports dated October 14 and 26, 2009.
The chemist was also asked to compare with photocopies of Teoh’s handwriting in the latter’s 10-page witness statement to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC).
In his analysis, Wong noted that the initials marked on the mystery note “showed similar handwriting characteristics to the initials on cash voucher” and also the initials made on the MACC statement.
He added that the mystery note was also written with two Kilometrico brand ballpoint pens found in Teoh’s bag and handed over for examination as the inks matched.
The lawyer for the Selangor government, Malik Imtiaz Sarwar, called Wong’s attention to some marks and a fingerprint on the mystery note.
Wong replied that he did observe the indentations, but had not been instructed to conduct any tests to verify them.
The mystery note stirred a huge controversy when it surfaced, more so after the Attorney-General’s Chambers tendered it as evidence in August this year — some 10 months after the start of the inquest.
The accuracy of the note’s court translation was also disputed after official interpreter Ting Chin Kin admitted to using Google Translate to do the job.
She had translated the original message in Chinese into Bahasa Malaysia to read: “Dalam keadaan tidak menyalin fail dalam komputer saya, mereka telah mengambil semua komputer itu. Mereka asyik menyalahkan kamu. Minta maaf. Tidak mengerti tapi pura-pura mengerti, akhirnya menyusahkan kamu. Saya kata ‘mendapat kelulusan YB’. Mereka berdegil menaip jadi ‘mengikut arahan YB’. Saya tidak dapat membantu kamu. Maaf. Saya sangat penat. Selamat tinggal.”
(“They took the computers without letting me copy any files. They always blame you. I’m sorry. Not understanding but pretending to understand, finally bringing you difficulty. I said, ‘I got approval from YB’. They insisted on typing ‘to follow YB’s instructions’. I cannot help you. I’m sorry. I’m very tired. Goodbye.”)
The lawyer for Teoh’s family, Gobind Singh Deo, observed that Ting’s translation of the last two words gave the note an air of finality.
Teoh, a former political secretary to Selangor state councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, had been questioned overnight by anti-graft officers on July 15 last year over claims his boss had misused state funds.
He was found dead the next day, nine floors below the MACC’s office on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam. The MACC has since moved its state base.
The inquest will resume on November 4 with police investigating officer ASP Ahmad Nazri Zainal scheduled to take the witness stand.
Coroner Azmil Muntapha Abas will also decide on the need to call three more witnesses as requested by the MACC lawyer, Datuk Abdul Razak Musa, and fix a date for submissions.