Thursday, April 15, 2010

Teoh’s family wants PM to issue guarantees

Teoh Beng Hock’s family today urged Prime Minister Najib Razak to give Thai pathologist Dr Pornthip Rojanasunand the necessary guarantees to enable her to testify in the inquest which is probing the cause of death of the political aide.

At a press conference at the Parliament lobby today, Beng Hock’s sister Lee Lan read a prepared statement on behalf the family, expressing their sadness over news that Pornthip would not be testifying.

“We don’t want the inquest to end with a question mark,” she said.

Lee Lan added that Pornthip’s presence at the inquest was vital because the prominent Thai pathologist was their best hope in unearthing the truth behind Beng Hock’s death.

“We hope that Pornthip can help us to find out the truth. But all of a sudden… she was not able to come to testify. Everything is now back to square one. How can we not be disappointed?”

Lee Lan said that if the case remains unsolved, it would be the family’s “greatest regret”.

She also reminded Najib that he had once said “no stone will be left unturned in finding out the real cause of death”.

Najib, at a meeting with members of Teoh’s family in July last year, also vowed that action would be taken should there be foul play.

Lee Lan said that the prime minister should provide Pornthip the following:

1) An official guarantee from the government and the attorney-general regarding her safety;

2) That she be allowed to perform her professional duty as an independent witness in the Teoh case; and

3) Her on-going investigations in southern Thailand, which require her to travel to Kelantan, will not be affected by her involvement in the inquest.

According to Lee Lan, Pornthip’s testimony, when the inquest resumes next Tuesday, will be “the best birthday present for Beng Hock.”

The inquest which is set to resume next week coincidentally falls on the same date as Teoh’s birthday, April 20.

‘Instantaneous action’

Ipoh Timur parliamentarian Lim Kit Siang, who was also at the press conference, demanded an immediate response from Najib.

“In this day and age of instantaneous communication, with a prime minister that is IT savvy – he has a blog, he has Twitter and Facebook – I hope that he will find out about this and respond instantly.”

Najib is currently overseas in the US and will only be back next week after a three-day visit to Japan.

He also questioned Home Minister Hishammudin Hussein’s “wobbling” response to the issue.

“He should stop wobbling and waffling. The home minister should give his unconditional and unequivocal guarantee of Pornthip’s safety. How difficult is that? If he cannot, let someone else be home minister.”

Hishammuddin had demanded Pornthip to furnish him with exact details of the alleged threats before he can guarantee her personal safety.

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