By Charles Santiago (MP Klang)
‘The Malaysian drama unfolding the last few days surrounding the death of Teoh Beng Hock suggests that race-relations in the country are at its lowest point ever.
Various quarters have turned this sad episode into a race issue.
The New Straits Times recently suggested that MACC is a Malay institution and asked as to why the Selangor MB, a Malay, was questioning fellow Malays and MACC, a Malay institution.
Minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz told DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang not to politicise Teoh’s death and turn it into a race issue.
A couple of days ago, UMNO members demonstrated in support of MACC and the police and indicated that they would respond if the opposition further politicises Teoh’s death.
Mahathir, not to be out-done, indicated that Malaysia has been taken over by non-Malays. In fact, the former Prime Minister pointedly noted that the Chinese are the masters in the Malay land.
Taken together, criticisms against the police and MACC are perceived as an attack on Malays and Malay institutions. In fact, it is seen as an attack on Malay political hegemony of the country, ( and note that the economy has been lost to the Chinese). And according to UMNO protestor’s response can be expected if the situation persists.
Why is the country being held hostage by UMNO Malays?
We are aware of the numerous deaths in custody cases involving all races. On the very same day when Teoh was found sprawled in the building that houses MACC, another young Malaysian died in police custody in a different part of the country. And what about the thousands of Malaysians that have died in police custody in the last couple of years.
An unaccountable and non-transparent police force and MACC is a threat to all Malaysians, both Malays and non-Malays. In fact even UMNO members may fall prey to these very agencies. About six-months ago UMNO member Halimi Kamaruzzman was tortured in the Pahang MACC head office.
Both these institutions have become a source of divisiveness, distrust and ridicule among the population.
MACC and the PDRM are Malaysian institutions. They are public bodies entrusted with specific mandates to protect and promote the interests of the nation and its people. The agencies are paid by the country’s tax payers and are thus accountable to all Malaysians.
These agencies require fundamental reform. The use of race to prevent criticism, cover-up of custodial deaths, change and institutional reform are the indications of a failing state.
And worse still, both these state agencies have been given a new mandate: destabilise Pakatan Rakyat (and thus the botched episode involving Teoh).
How is Najib, consistent with his 1Malaysia going to convince his party-men and women including the New Straits Times and his Minister, Nazri that the police and MACC are Malaysian organisations representing all Malaysians regardless of affiliations?
More importantly, how is he going to convince fellow Malaysians that he is the Prime Minister of all Malaysians and not only UMNO Malays?
The Prime Minister has to do three things:
1. to openly state that the police and MACC are not part of UMNOs strategy to bring down the Pakatan Rakyat government. In fact this should be part of the scope of the Royal Commission’s investigations;
2. to put in place policies that ensures that the police and MACC are independent of UMNO and its ministers in government. Here the IPCMC recommendations would be helpful;
3) to instruct MACC, NAZRI and NST to offer an unreserved apology to Teoh’s family on their offensive and racist remarks;
4) to include the cause(s) of Teoh’s death as part of the Royal Commission’s investigations.