Senior MACC Officer fingered in bid to cover up role, RCI told

UPDATED @ 07:02:12 AM 28-04-2011 By Boo Su-Lyn (TMI) April 27, 2011
Why would a senior government officer try to cover up his official role unless….

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 — An anti-graft officer admitted to being instructed to cover up the role of his superior in the investigation against Selangor executive councillor Ean Yong Hian Wah, the Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) heard today.

Hishamuddin Hashim

Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) assistant superintendent Azeem Hafeez Jamaluddin said Hishamuddin Hashim, who was then Selangor MACC deputy director, had ordered him some time after Teoh’s death in 2009 to testify that another graftbuster had led the probe against Ean Yong instead.

“The operation was led by Hishamuddin, but in the discussion, Hishamuddin asked that it be said the operation was ordered by Hairul (Ilham Hamzah),” said Azeem at the inquiry today, referring to the Selangor MACC investigation unit head.

“So you were ordered to say that the operation was led by Hairul Ilham, not Hishamuddin?” asked Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee.

“Yes,” Azeem answered.

Teoh was found on July 16, 2009 sprawled on the fifth-floor corridor of Plaza Masalam in Shah Alam after he was questioned overnight by MACC officers at their then-Selangor headquarters on the 14th floor.

Teoh, 30, was the political secretary to Ean Yong, who is the Seri Kembangan assemblyman from the DAP, at the time of his death.

The graftbusters were investigating a claim that his boss was abusing state funds.

A senior MACC officer testified yesterday, however, that the MACC had failed to find evidence to prove Ean Yong had abused state funds, leading to the public prosecutor calling for it to drop investigations.

MACC headquarters’ acting senior superintendent Ahmad Shafik Abdul Rahman said investigations showed that government projects in Ean Yong’s constituency had been completed in 2008.

Commissioner Datuk T. Selventhiranathan said last Wednesday that Hishamuddin had lied at the inquiry when he earlier claimed ignorance of police reports against his officers, which accused them of physical abuse.

Shah Alam police CID chief DSP Kamaruddin Ismail has testified that he had written a letter to Hishamuddin in 2008, requesting that his officers attend a police identification parade.

Kamaruddin also complained of trouble getting cooperation from the MACC in abuse complaints that were lodged against the graftbusters before Teoh’s death.

He said the national anti-graft body’s failure to provide the necessary documentation had caused several investigation cases, which were opened against the Selangor MACC from 2005 till 2009, to stall.

Puchong MP Gobind Singh Deo reportedly said last month that there were 59 police reports between 2005 and 2010 which accused the MACC of using force in its interrogations.

Selventhiranathan said recently that 21 out of those 59 police reports were against the Selangor branch.

Azeem said today there was also a meeting of MACC officers, which was chaired by then MACC investigations director Datuk Mohd Shukri Abdull, where they discussed how to testify at the coroner’s inquest into Teoh’s death.

Shukri is currently the MACC deputy chief commissioner.

“The orders were to give testimonies as per our police statements,” said Azeem, 27.

He added that the meeting was attended by many anti-graft officers, including Hishamuddin, Hairul and MACC investigating officer Mohd Anuar Ismail, as well as MACC prosecution head Datuk Abdul Razak Musa and DPP Kevin Morais.

Azeem, who wore a red tie, said Hairul was quiet when Hishamuddin instructed him to testify that Hairul headed the investigation against Ean Yong.

Cheow also read out an SMS, or mobile text message, that MACC officer Zurinawati Zulkifli had sent to Azeem, saying: “Tomorrow, Datuk B1 (Shukri) wants to meet everyone with DPP Kevin.”

The criminal law specialist then read out Azeem’s SMS reply to Zurinawati, saying: “For what? Later stories will become different as long as HH (Hishamuddin Hashim) is there.”

Cheow said another MACC officer called Nellmy Amrizal had texted Azeem, saying she was at a meeting with Shukri and MACC chief commissioner Datuk Seri Abu Kassim Mohamed, where she was briefed on how to answer questions at the inquest.

“But you know right, the truth will come out anyway? No use planning,” said Azeem, reading out his SMS reply to Nellmy.

RCI chairman Tan Sri James Foong said Hishamuddin, who is currently the Negri Sembilan MACC director, appeared to play a major role in the investigation against Ean Yong.

“Hairul is like someone who takes orders. Anuar is also the same?” asked Foong.

“Yes,” said Azeem, who has cropped hair.

He added, however, that he did not see Hishamuddin in the Selangor MACC office the night before Teoh’s body was found.

Azeem, who is based in the Selangor MACC branch, said no officers lied about Teoh’s death.

“It (the lie) was about operation orders. That’s all; that Hairul led it,” said Azeem.

Hishamuddin has claimed ignorance of police reports against his officers, accusing them of physical abuse.

Shah Alam police CID chief DSP Kamaruddin Ismail testified recently, however, that he had written a letter on May 27, 2008, to Hishamuddin requesting that his officers attend a police identification parade.

Hishamuddin has also denied forcing Teoh to sit on a window ledge in the MACC office to scare him.

The senior graftbuster further denied interrogating Teoh by blindfolding the young man or shaking him by holding his belt.

Cheow has said a poison-pen letter had accused Hishamuddin of having a “trademark technique” when interrogating witnesses, which involved holding their belt from the front and shaking them.

Hishamuddin, who has served the national anti-graft body for 19 years, denied the allegation, calling it slanderous.

He also said he had never interrogated Teoh.



TBH inquiry: MACC man watching porn at work (updated) – Sun2surf

By: Tan Yi Liang (Thu, 31 Mar 2011)

KUALA LUMPUR (March 31, 2011): A Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officer who assisted in the interviewing of Teoh Beng Hock was watching porn in his office in the early hours of July 16, 2009, the day Teoh was found dead, revealed Tan Sri James Foong, chairman of the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) investigating Teoh’s death .

Foong told Negri Sembilan MACC chief Hishamuddin Hashim that Mohd Ashraf Mohd Yunus had been found to be visiting pornographic websites at 1.20am on July 16, contrary to Ashraf’s testimony to the RCI that he was reading newspapers in his office at the time.

Hishamuddin was the Selangor MACC deputy head when Teoh was found dead on July 16, 2009.

“When the whole operation was ongoing, Ashraf was downloading pornography on July 16 at 1.25am after interviewing the witness. An important operation is going on and an officer is viewing porn even though there is a government directive forbidding this,” said Foong.

Hishamuddin said that this was a problem of a personal and not professional nature on the part of Ashraf. “It is a personal matter,” said Hishamuddin, adding that the matter was out of his control.

“You should knock his door, go in and see what he is doing,” replied Foong.

Teoh was brought in to the Selangor MACC branch on the 14th floor of Plaza Masalam, Shah Alam on July 15 as a witness in investigations of Ean Yong. Teoh’s body was found on a fifth floor landing of the building the next day.

In questioning by Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee, Hishamuddin was asked about a poison pen letter carrying accusations directed at Hishamuddin.

The letter alleged that Hishamuddin refused to give a DNA sample and had a trademark interrogation technique, which was to pick the person up by the belt and shake them.

Hishamuddin dismissed the allegation as “fitnah” (malicious claim). “You can call all witnesses I have taken statements from or questioned,” said Hishamuddin.

He said that officers were given two days to give a DNA sample, and he gave his on the second day, adding that he did not participate in interrogations.

“I was the deputy director then and I just coordinated and gave orders,” added Hishamuddin.

To a question from Cheow as to Hishamuddin’s absence from an internal inquiry conducted by the MACC Complaints Committee, he firmly disagreed that he was uncooperative.

“I would have voluntarily attended the inquiry but there were no orders from top management issued to me on that,” said Hishamuddin, who was hit by a barrage of questions from Bar Council lawyer Edmund Bon.

“Who is the real person in-charge of this operation? Anuar, Hairul and you pointed at each other,” said Bon, who was told by Foong to “let Hishamuddin answer”.

Hishamuddin said the head of operations was Hairul Ilham Hamzah, and then Mohd Anuar Ismail in Hairul’s absence.

When asked by Bon about the 17½-hour interrogation of Kajang municipal councillor Tan Boon Wah, Hishamuddin agreed with Bon.

“For this case, we have to unravel the issues concerning assemblymen’s allocations and claims. We need and depend on witnesses,” said Hishamuddin.

He added that he had told an MACC officer, Bulkini Paharuddin to continue questioning Tan when Bulkini came to his office between 9 to 9.30pm to tell him Tan was not cooperating.

Earlier, responding to questions from conducting officer Awang Armadajaya Awang Mahmud, Hishamuddin said Section 47 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Act 2009 gives MACC officers the power to compel witnesses to cooperate. However, it must be done politely.

To questions by Bar Council lawyer Cheow Wee on the investigation and interrogation techniques used by him, Hishamuddin defined MACC’s techniques as “ordinary”.

“Our meetings with witnesses are done in harmony. It is useless to use force as witnesses may turn hostile when in court. There is no other technique,” said Hishamuddin.

“We need their help to get truthful information,” he added, stressing that there was no use of threats when asked by Cheow.

Hishamuddin also said that a police report had not been made as investigations into Teoh’s death had already begun.

“One report is enough for the police to begin investigations. Teoh was found dead in the compound of Plaza Masalam, not in the offices of the MACC,” said Hishamuddin.

“If a witness had died in the office, I would have made a report myself,” he added, stressing that Teoh had been cleared to go home. “Teoh had left the MACC office as far as I am concerned,” he said.   

Hishamuddin’s demeanour during hearings was picked up by Foong, who told Hishamuddin to be calm as he feared he would get a heart attack in the witness box.

“You have been attending court cases as a MACC officer. You haven’t learnt how to answer questions. You get emotional,” said Foong.

The hearing continues.

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