Teoh Beng Hock’s “suicide note”

tbh_notes.jpgWow. Just wow. It’s been a while since i’ve been blown away by a single piece of news, but the contents of the Teoh Beng Hock alleged suicide note must take the cake.

Here is the full official translation:

Ou Yang, They have taken my computer without making copies of the documents. The target is all the while you. Sorry. Pretending to know but actually not knowing and consequently you have been dragged in. I said “mendapat lulusan YB” (getting YB’s permission), they insisted on typing “mengikut arahan YB” (following YB’s instructions). I can’t help you. Apology. Sorry. I am very tired. Goodbye.

Here is another translation, done by a member of the blogging community. You’ll notice some very interesting, subtle, but perhaps very relevant differences.

Ean Yong,

They took away all the computers without our making a copy of the files. They keep pointing finger at you.

Sorry, [writing struck out]

Pretending to understand, but still dragged you into the trouble.

I said “mendapat lulusan YB”, they insisted to type ‘mengikut arahan YB’

I failed to help you, my apologies

Sorry, I am very tired, see you later.

There are several critical points that need to be pointed out.

If this note is authentic, then it’s very arguable that Teoh Beng Hock committed suicide. However, it’s obvious that he was under duress by his interrogators who were telling him what to do against his will. A person under duress can lose his will to live; it’s not inconceivable either that he also lost his perspective and rationality. This may explain why he killed himself even though he seemed to have everything to live for e.g. a wedding to attend, a baby to be born.

Where does that leave the MACC? I’m no lawyer, but if it’s proven that Teoh Beng Hock was under duress caused by the interrogators that led to his death, that sounds like criminally negligent (gross) manslaughter at best, or felony murder at worst. 

Criminally negligent (gross) manslaughter is:

Criminally negligent manslaughter occurs where there is an omission to act when there is a duty to do so, or a failure to perform a duty owed, which leads to a death. The existence of the duty is essential because the law does not impose criminal liability for a failure to act unless a specific duty is owed to the victim. It is most common in the case of professionals who are grossly negligent in the course of their employment. An example is where a doctor fails to notice a patient’s oxygen supply has disconnected and the patient dies (R v Adomako).

Felony murder is:

The rule of felony murder is a legal doctrine in some common law jurisdictions that broadens the crime of murder in two ways. First, when an offender kills accidentally or without specific intent to kill in the course of an applicable felony, what might have been manslaughter is escalated to murder. Second, it makes any participant in such a felony criminally liable for any deaths that occur during or in furtherance of that felony.

Teoh Beng Hock died as a result of physical and/or mental duress (torture), that’s a felony. His death, though, “accidental”, occurred while the felony was being committed.

The note, if authentic, answers quite a number of questions about what happened that night. It goes to the state of mind of Teoh Beng Hock, it sheds some light on the events he had to endure, it tells us what the MACC wanted, how they operate.

If it isn’t already obvious, the MACC is a disgrace, heads must roll for this disaster. Teoh Beng Hock wouldn’t have written it, made the accusations he did, then kill himself, if it wasn’t true. 

Edit: The last line of the note, translated as “see you later” rather than “goodbye” could indicate that the note is not in fact a suicide note, but a simple letter venting his frustrations. It’s in the nuances of the language perhaps. 

In English, the equivalent would be translating a phrase like “so long” — it doesn’t exactly mean goodbye, but it can be meant to mean a form of permanency i.e. i won’t see you again. 

Nuances of language is difficult to translate sometimes, and everything needs to be put into context.

I’m not an expert, but this sounds like a suicide note. I can’t see a purpose of writing it otherwise, not just for its contents, but also on the scrap of paper, scrawled handwriting, rather than a proper letter. It looks desperate, it sounds apologetic, two key factors (i think) that would be present in a suicide note. 

Edit 2: Interesting analysis by Airkosong to support the claim that the note is NOT a suicide note. A very good read.

Edit 3: The thought just came to me. Whether or not this not is a suicide note, MACC is damned. If it is a suicide note, than some form of criminal death charges can be brought on them, as i noted above. If it isn’t a suicide note, then the note points to how the MACC uses methods of duress in their interrogation methods; even attempting to change or perjure a statement. 

The search for the truth is a long and windy road. The note is just a sign-post, it seems. There is much more to this tale.


5 thoughts on “Teoh Beng Hock’s “suicide note”

  1. Sorry buddy all the editing is confusing, don’t even know what your view is (of course views can change). Maybe a clean version sans the editing.


  2. I still think its a suicide note, but i acknowledge that there are very strong arguments to say that it isn’t.
    However, as far as the MACC is concerned, i don’t think it matters — suicide note or note, its a damning piece of evidence from beyond the grave against the practices of a government agency.


  3. Ok if the second translation (blog version) is accurate, how can “see you later” be understood as a suicide note? That’s the part that to me just blows the theory of suicide apart.
    You are right though that either way MACC should be in trouble for the methods they allegedly used, trouble is I suspect nothing is gonna happen.
    Worth mentioning though that if TBH did commit suicide, that I doubt that the legal connection between the methods that MACC used and the eventual suicide is as clear cut as you analysed, so in theory if action were to be taken against MACC, then they will get off lighter if i) suicide is proven (a suicide note would be strong evidence) and if ii) the note was proven to be authentic. But the whole timing and delay of discovering the note smells fishy.


  4. For anyone who speak mandarin and understands the Chinese culture, this doesn’t look like a suicide note. Noone will say “zai jian” in a suicide note. I believe he was drafting a note for his boss and he intended to tender his resignation.


  5. Simple omission that it’s not a suicide note: it didn’t even mention anything about his loved one, whom he was going to register the marriage with the following day, and even the unborn child!
    Unless there is another note addressed to them or Beng Hock had lost his mind by then… NO!


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