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Teoh Beng Hock; gone but never forgotten

We lost Sdr Teoh Beng Hock 13 years ago. He is greatly missed by everyone here today.

13 years have passed but we could not and would not put this behind us. For Beng Hock’s tragic demise was not just a crimeless mishap. He died a victim of brutality.

Lest we forget, the Court of Appeal ruled on September 5, 2014 that Beng Hock’s death was caused by the act of “person or persons unknown”. These criminals remain at large. Yet until today, the status of follow up investigations in order to uncover the truth is unknown. The family of the deceased demands answer but receives none. 

Mother to Teoh Beng Hock, Teng Shuw Hor (L) and widow to Teoh Beng Hock, Soh Cher Wei

On June 16 this year, High Court granted leave to the parents of the late Teoh Beng Hock to initiate judicial review proceedings for the police to complete the investigations into their son’s death. Sdr Ramkarpal Singh is the legal counsel representing the family. This is a positive development after years of fighting.

We must persevere in the face of hopelessness because we do not forget our duty to the Teoh family.  DAP will persevere to pursue the truth because we have our responsibility to the citizens of this country who deserve justice and rule of law. We must continue to do all we can, within legal means, to get justice done for Teoh Beng Hock.

The past 13 years have seen regime change and power transition. During which the short-lived PH government came to power but lasted barely two years before Sheraton Move. Regretfully, many reforms initiated by us did not cross the finishing line in time.

When we were in government, admittedly the Teoh Beng Hock case did not achieve major breakthrough. It is a matter of frustration and regret. Facing the criticisms by members of the public and the family – however unpleasant and harsh – we take them with an open heart.

Today, as we stand here to commemorate the deceased we remind ourselves to remain steadfast to the cause. Justice for Beng Hock must be done, the perpetrators at large must be apprehended and brought to face the full force of law. 

Beng Hock was neither the first nor the last victim of death in custody. But he was unfortunately the first DAP member who suffered custodial death.

Cases of death under custody remain rampant despite and after Teoh Beng Hock. From 2015 until November 2021, as many as 176 lives were lost when in custody. In 2021 we had a record year with 44 such cases. And for year 2022 to date, we have recorded 19 cases of death in custody. 

Flowers and wreaths being placed upon his gravesite on his memorial day on 17/07/2022

Each of these death in custody cases keep us awake and remind us that we have not attained much progress in implementing reforms. However we also realise that this is a crucial moment when our fight must continue ahead despite recent setbacks. Otherwise the sacrifice of Teoh Beng Hock would be in vain. Otherwise our forebears who fought tirelessly for the ideals of Malaysian Malaysia, their blood and tears would have gone to waste.

We must persevere to push ahead. Without comprehensive legal and institutional reform, without cleaning up thoroughly our enforcement agencies, the rights and safety of any persons in custody will be at risks. Therefore we must press ahead for institutional reform so that injustices such as Teoh Beng Hock could no longer happen in the future. 

Anthony Loke Siew Fook

DAP Secretary-General

MP for Seremban

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