KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 13 – For the last five years since her brother’s death, Teoh Lee Lan has worn little else but black in public. And she has been carrying her dead brother Teoh Beng Hock’s memory with her, literally, wherever she goes. Dressed in her usual attire of a black T-shirt imprinted with the dead DAP political aide’s smiling face on it, the 34-year old auditor lodged a report at the Shah Alam police headquarters on Tuesday asking for fresh investigations into his death. This came about after the Court of Appeal on September 5 set aside the open verdict by a coroner on Beng Hock’s death, ruling out suicide and stating that “a person or persons were responsible for his death”.
It could not be helped that Lee Lan had to file her police report just metres away from the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) office in Plaza Masalam where her 30-year old brother was found dead five years ago. Beng Hock had gone to the MACC office on July 15, 2009, to give a statement in the agency’s probe into graft allegations against his boss, Selangor exco Ean Yong Hian Wah. He was found dead the next day, lying on a landing on the 5th floor of the building. He was believed to have fallen to his death from a window on the 14th floor of the building.
“I’m tired,” she admitted, of the countless trips to the court to attend the inquest into his death, and then the Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI), and then the appeal process at the Court of Appeal. She remains committed, however, to holding up a candle for her brother until the desired result is achieved – finding Beng Hock’s killers, and bringing them to justice. Lee Lan has been at the forefront of her family’s crusade in seeking justice for Beng Hock. She has attended forums, given talks and held public memorials. These have taken her nationwide, except for Sabah.
She is also active in non-governmental organisations campaigning against custodial deaths, including the one set up in memory of her brother called the Teoh Beng Hock Trust for Democracy. All this while, Lee Lan has been the main spokesperson for her family. Lee Lan met with The Malaysian Insider after the Court of Appeal’s verdict to talk about the family’s ongoing fight for justice. She said friends tell her that she has changed. They say that before the incident, she was just a normal girl who hung out with her friends and did not know much about politics.
And overwhelming sadness was something she had never felt before losing her brother. “All that changed and every time I went to court, or each time I saw (Soh) Cher Wei, the tears would just flow,” she said, referring to the woman Beng Hock was engaged to marry. Cher Wei was three months pregnant with their son, Er Jia, when Beng Hock died, and married him posthumously according to Chinese rites. “My friends said that I have become brave, but that is not true, this is something I do out of love for my brother. Many people would do the same if they were in the same situation,” said Lee Lan.
Lee Lan married her college sweetheart last year, and counts on his support to keep the torch burning for her brother. Of her analyst husband whom she has known since 2001, she said: “He is a very good listener and supports me in everything I do. “He has journeyed with me and has seen how the incident has impacted me, he also knew Beng Hock very well.” Hoping to start a family of her own soon, Lee Lan, who has always been photographed crying or looking sombre in the early years after her brother’s death, is now able to see a silver lining in the tragedy.
“If there is any good that has come out of this, it is that people are more aware about political issues and custodial deaths. “With Beng Hock’s case, people can see how the police do their investigations, how pathologists behave, how judges make decisions in the courtrooms and how the MACC can deny their responsibility. “To put it plainly, the people can see the true face of the government,” she said. Lee Lan added that she was also amazed with the support given to her family, not only by politicians and NGOs, but more importantly, from the general public.
“We have had many events and gatherings in the name of justice for Beng Hock and it is very heartening to see the large public support,” she said. Still, her mother, Teng Shuw Hoi, has trouble sleeping as she pines for her son, who was very close to her and who would call her several times a day. Lee Lan, Beng Hock and their three other siblings were very close-knit as they were each born about a year apart. The eldest sister is now 40 and Beng Hock, the fourth in the family, would have been 35 if he was still alive today.
“My mother thinks of him when she cooks his favorite food and even when she washes clothes, because he used to bring back his laundry every week and she would wash, iron and put them back neatly into his bag,” she said. Her mother was always looking for similarities between her grandson, Er Jia, now 5, and Beng Hock, Lee Lan added. Her sister-in-law Soh, had moved back to Batu Pahat to live with her parents since Beng Hock’s death. Before the 13th general elections last year, Lee Lan said Soh told a public event that the day Beng Hock died was “the end of the story for her family life”.
And two years ago, Soh’s mother passed away as well. Yet, Lee Lan believes there is hope. “Cher Wei cannot forget him but to us Er Jia signifies the continuation of Beng Hock’s life and is our hope,” she said. Still, closure remains distant for the family while her brother’s murderers are free. “My parents will never be over the death of their son, especially when he was killed and no one is held responsible. “But we keep telling my mother to stay healthy so that she can see the end of this story, the day my brother’s killers are brought to justice,” she said.
Lee Lan also said she never thought that she and her family would have to wait this long after they had met Datuk Seri Najib Razak soon after her brother’s death. According to her, the prime minister had promised that there would be “no stone left unturned if there was sufficient evidence to pinpoint the culprits responsible for Beng Hock’s death”. How does she feel about this now? Lee Lan answered simply: “Well, he did not keep his promise.” She added: “I think without political interference, this case would have been solved and I believe they know who is responsible but continue to protect them. “We, on the other hand, will continue to push for the killers to be punished and will not rest until then. “We vow not to leave any stone unturned in seeking justice for Beng Hock,” said Lee Lan.
Credit : The Malaysian Insider