Thursday, 6 January 2011

NO to RCI to investigate Beng Hock's death, YES to RCI to investigate the bus crashes in 2010 that caused the loss of 52 lives

In the aftermath of the just ended inquest on the death of Teoh Beng Hock, I read that the still grieving family insisted that our PM call a RCI to investigate the death of Teoh Beng Hock, going to the extent in wanting to have a say in the Royal Commission of Inquiry’s (RCI) scope of investigation and has even urged Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak to meet them before he goes ahead with its set-up (read here).

I think with the partisan involvement of politicians/lawyers in the inquest and the appearance of members of the Teoh Family during the recent Galas by-election, I think Beng Hock's death is too much politicised as it is, an RCI would only politicise the death further.

I think the Bar Council erred in their support for the RCI, what should be given support is Karpal Singh's desire to challenge the inquest verdict in the High Court where I believed the burden of proof of beyond reasonable doubt is much higher. Presumably the High Court Judge could even direct the DPP/police to do further investigation and call for more expert witnesses. With due respect, a  person who fall to his death does not deserve a verdict of "death not by suicide, not by homicide". There must be closure for the grieving family no  matter what the bitter truth may be.

What we Malaysians really need is an RCI to investigate the bus acccidents on our highways in 2010 which caused the death of 52 people, notably Malaysians,Thais and other foreigners. The RCI should investigate how each serious accident happened and also investigate the Operations and Maintenance of Bus companies and the effectiveness of the current Laws and its enforcement.

In 2010, 52 bus occupants died on our highways:

Dec 20, 2010: 28 passengers died in a bus crash along the Simpang Pulai - Cameron Highlands Highway

Dec 17, 2010: Four prison officers killed after a Prisons Department bus plunged into a ravine along the hilly and winding Tambunan-Kota Kinabalu trunk road.

Oct 29, 2010: Seven passengers, aged between 13 and 28, killed after their bus skidded and overturnMed at KM38 Genting Sempah, while enroute to Kuala Lumpur. It was later revealed the driver of the bus had no valid driving licence.

Oct 10, 2010: Thirteen killed in bus crash along KM223 of the North-South Expressway (NSE), near the Simpang Ampat toll plaza.

Malaysia has one of the highest if not the highest road accident fatalities in the world (refer here). There is something very wrong somewhere on our roads, bus accidents just do not happen at random, there will always be a reason for the accidents and the RCI could help reduce the accident fatalities by recommending stricter legislation to be enforced on to the bus companies and the enforcement agencies. 

Teoh Beng Hock's inquest verdict should be challenged in the High Court, it does not need an RCI.

All together there were 9 RCI's that have been called in Malaysia's history, let the tenth be an RCI to investigate the cause of 52 deaths in bus accidents in 2010.

9. Royal Commission of Inquiry into the Lingam Video Clip (2007)

8. Royal Commission for Police Reform (2004)

7. Royal Commission to investigate alleged injuries suffered by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim while in police custody (1999)

6. Royal Commission of Inquiry into the fire at the Bright Sparklers factory in Sungai Buloh New  Village (1991)

5. Royal Commission of Inquiry to investigate a fire at Sekolah Agama Rakyat Taufikah al-Halimah in Padang Lumat, Yan, Kedah (1989)

4. Royal Commission of Inquiry on the collapse of the upper deck of the Pengkalan Sultan Abdul 4. Halim ferry terminal in Butterworth (1988)

3. Royal Commission on the Teaching Services (1971)

2. Royal Commission of Inquiry to Investigate the Workings of Local Authorities in West Malaysia (1968)

1. Royal Commission on Salaries and Conditions of Service of the Public Service (1965)

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