TEOH BENG HOCK – THE DEATH OF A JUDGE
THE MAKINGS OF A PERFECT STORM
In a most cynical demonstration of the politics of power, of intimidation, of money and of race, the Chinese community in a politically volatile and racially divided Malaysia have once more shown how disingenuous and misleading their claims to being second class citizens, being discriminated against in Malaysia is.
Teoh Beng Hock, a political aide to a state member of parliament in Selangor under investigation for corruption, has in death has become a martyr, sacrificed on an exclusively Chinese altar to their belligerent causes, according some.
To others he is leverage the Chinese have coveted for so long to menace the government of Malaysia into submission and defeat at the next general elections. An extension of the momentum created by that political eruption in 2007 by Hindraf that saw the Badawi government concede 5 states to a Chinese exclusive opposition.
Hindraf has been neutralized by its own incompetence, its failure to capitalize on its victories, bad decisions, poor political choices and obstinacy. Its leaders divided. Its political capital wasted by rudderless political amateurs.
AT THE EYE OF THE STORM
Amongst the Chinese or, at least those very vocal elements amongst them, who the majority have not seen fit to rein in, are now forcefully and in a menacing attempting to build up a dangerous a ‘head of steam’ in time for the next general elections as part of their wider sinister political agenda for change.
As a first line of attack, they have been backing any breakaway faction that has capacity to divide the Malays. The Achilles heel of Malay consciousness, their politics, their security, culture and strength lies in their unity as expressed in UMNO (the United Malay Nationalist Organization). Dangerous cracks are beginning to appear in their ranks courtesy of splinter groups forming within UMNO.
The path and momentum of the Chinese in this ‘long march’ will trod and trample on anything in its way. That includes the law, the constitution and the rights of anyone in disagreement with their queer idea of the rule of law and justice. They are contemptuous of anything and anyone in disagreement with their world view.
This is a dangerous development in the politics of race in Malaysia. If no one else has had the sense to tell the Chinese so, then perhaps a provocative piece on the implications of Chinese bullying in this respect would.
What’s being done by a mainly Chinese group in opposition in the name of Teoh Beng Hock will gradually as the evidence shows, build up and compel a counter attack by the growing restless and threatened Malay majority. Many amongst the Malays are beginning to rise against this resentment of their community, viewing the Chinese opposition groups as an arrogant, nascent form of chauvinism, threatening Malay survival like Chin Peng’s campaign of violence did not so long ago. And when the Malays do rise up in defence of this Chinese putsch, the results are likely to be catastrophically ugly.
Memories of the Singapore betrayal and Chin Peng’s brutality over decades, both events with a majority Chinese character and component to it linger painfully and long in the minds of many. Not least of whom are an embittered Malay majority in Malaysia.
The growth of illegal immigrant Chinese communities within Malaysia appear to be aimed at bolstering their numbers. But for what reason?
The argument that government is to blame for everything and anything the opposition in its ‘wisdom’ (for want of a better word) is unable to explain satisfactorily to its constituents, is pernicious and inimical to logic. The lawyers participating in the Teoh Beng Hock inquiry have either been able to logically explain their controversial positions or the positions adopted by their respective clients in this inquiry. The reason being that they are unable to detach themselves and their incompetence from their own political aspirations and allegiances. Their focus is on finding a reason to blaming government for Teoh Beng Hock’s death.
The death in custody of the Indian, Kugan and the botched inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his unnatural and violent death in custody is an excellent example of the point. But he was not Chinese. And to his lawyers he was perhaps not political capital or leverage funded by the DAP Chinese driven causes.
JUSTICE FOR TEOH BENG HOCK – TO FIND SOMEONE GUILTY OF MURDER AT ANY COST
The death of Teoh Beng Hock (Teoh) a political operative in custody of the Malaysian Anti Corruption Commission (MACC) has given rise to a plethora of speculation as to how the man died.
The silence and failure of the MACC to provide a timely account of events leading to the death of Teoh has to some extent been responsible for the speculation, the many unfounded theories about his death, but not to the extent of exaggeration fueled by the mainly Chinese led opposition in a race driven campaign over Teoh’s death.
The DAP led by their leading ‘token’ and non Chinese candidate, Karpal Singh a Malaysian lawyer, has been one of the main drivers of this witch hunt. His objective it appears, to help the DAP in their desperate bid to find someone guilty of causing the death of Teoh. However the ultimate prize of the exercise is from their rhetoric to pin the blame for Teoh’s death on the Barisan National (BN) government.
It is pathetic that ‘learned’ men and women of the law have great difficulty understanding the impact of tainted evidence and speculation in their submission as presented to the initial inquest into Teoh’s death. And equally is their failure to understand how the first inquiry ultimately could lead to the inevitable conclusion of an open finding into Teoh’s death.
That farce led by Karpal Singh and his son Deo Gobind must go down in history as the most ignominious example of a botched inquiry, deliberately sabotaged with tainted evidence, misleading statements and possibly false testimony. Professional incompetence and misconduct by lawyers willfully misleading the inquiry, the paucity of knowledge of law and jurisprudence by Teoh’s lawyers, throughout the inquiry now needs to be examined for causes.
Lawyers as officers of the courts are compelled by their professional ethics and by law to act honourably ,honestly, and to be forthright and candid before the courts at all times and in all manner of proceedings.
The conduct or more accurately misconduct of Teoh’s lawyers has irreversibly tarnished the reputation of the profession in Malaysia. The Malaysian Bar now desperately needs to redeem itself by purging the contempt of these lawyers if not internally, then through self regulatory processes (if these do exist) or in proceedings in the Courts.
Standards of integrity have been compromised in a pursuit of a purely political exercise. To believe or to think otherwise is to suspend logic, the truth and reason. A judge has now decided to wade through these murky waters that smell of more than simply the death of a political operative.
THE MALAYSIAN BAR AS AGENT PROVOCATEUR -BLIND MAN’S BUFF
To add insult to injury the Malaysian Bar now lobby’s for a seat at the table of infamy at this latest inquiry with Royal Commission status, to find a cause into the death of Teoh Beng Hock. Same players different props and costumes.
The outcomes that opposition parties, led by the Chinese dominated DAP, have predetermined and pre conceived in their minds about the cause of death of Teoh makes it almost impossible now for any legitimate inquiry into his death to reach a more conclusive, balanced or justifiably accurate finding than that made by the first inquiry.
The Chinese led opposition want nothing short of a finding of guilt. And that guilt must be directed at the MACC as a proxy of the BN. Then their ideas of justice will prevail and the inquiry completed. They are the hand in that glove which is Karpal Singh, Deo and the DAP.
ALL HANDS ON DECK
It is hard to ignore the MCA’s laudatory comments at the announcement of the Royal Commission to be led by Tan Sri James Foong J in the Star 27 January 2011. Such comments further fuel deep mistrust and suspicions about the Chinese exclusive element in this matter.
Normally at least for public consumption, this political arm of the Barisan (the MCA) is diametrically opposed in ideological terms to the DAP. However in these circumstances they are united with the DAP praising government for appointing of a Royal Commission into the cause of death of Teoh Beng Hock. Calling it a Chinese engineered putsch is thus not being unfair. No one in the DAP cried for Kugan. And that silence from the DAP in respect of Kugan’s cause is of itself a critical, pointed political statement that flies in the face of the DAP’s otherwise vocal calls for justice and freedoms ‘for all’.
The Sikh Punjabi lawyers in Karpal and his group of course do not consider themselves Indians. No love lost there. They are identified by their religion. And they distance themselves from the rest of the Indian community as if the rest of the world is blind as to who they are.
What in effect they are saying is that Teoh Beng Hock was murdered and murdered on the orders of the Barisan government through the apparatus of the MACC. Nothing less of a finding along these lines will pacify their blood lust. Whatever the laws are, by their conduct they appear to be saying, let’s bend them or let government suffer the consequences of a Chinese led backlash against it.
Never mind the fact that many others have died in more suspicious circumstances at the hands of law enforcement. Teoh Beng Hock was Chinese and his party is in opposition to a Malay dominated government and that matters most. That’s the political message and the inference we are invited to draw from the conduct of the DAP in particular in this matter.
APPOINTMENT OF SITTING JUDGE TO A POLITICAL TRIBUNAL AND THE DOCTRINE OF THE SEPARATION OF POWERS?
Justice Tan Sri James Foong follows in a long line of judges in post independent Malaysia who after and except perhaps for Suffian J and the late Raja Azlan Shah (former Lord President of the High Court) have shown little understanding of the principles of justice, the doctrine of judicial independence, the separation of powers, the law or the constitution which, as judges, ought to be their bible.
It may appear to be harsh criticism of these judges. But harsh times, extreme events and unusual situations call for extreme and harsh though befitting responses.
A recent private survey of 100 law students and practicing lawyers in Malaysia surprisingly showed that 68% of those surveyed either did not know what jurisprudence means, had never heard of the subject nor had they studied the subject of jurisprudence and legal theory as a component of their qualifications in law. Tan Sri James Foong J and his colleagues on the bench appear to fall into this category. A graduate perhaps of the NH Chan school of jurisprudence.
Perhaps and however surprising that may be to a lawyer or jurist in another country, this knowledge deficit could explain how someone like Justice James Foong could allow himself to be appointed to the role of commissioner in the Royal Commission of inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock, the political operative.
For Tan Sri James Foong J to have accepted such an appointment in these circumstances fraught with the dangers facing any sitting judge who will sit on such an inquiry, where proper appeal or review of the findings of the first inquest have yet to be exhausted, is to act above the law at the behest of executive government in the first place.
In the second it raises questions about the judge’s knowledge and understanding of procedural law and how the courts and non judicial tribunals are supposed to work within the constitutional and legal framework in Malaysia.
The matter is now utterly political and Foong ought to have known that at the outset.
i) What does his involvement now say for Foong J’s understanding of or application of the processes of the law?
i) What does it say in general about Malaysian judges’ understanding of the doctrine of the separation of powers and of procedure?
iii) What does it say about the independence of the judiciary in Malaysia already tainted in inquiries and the media and by judgements in other forums into their independence, credibility and understanding of the law?
iv) Is the judiciary now to be further politicized by government? the Malaysian Bar having already played its role in this regard.
Can James Foong J rise to the occasion by refusing to accept his appointment to the Royal Commission of inquiry with the benefit of enlightenment: or is it the case as recent information to us suggest, that such a proposition is not possible, as James Foong J lobbied indirectly to have himself appointed to the position as head of this Royal Commission?
TERMS OF REFERENCE AND WITNESS LIST
What this announcement of a Royal Commission of Inquiry fails to disclose is the power or authority under which it has come into existence. It likewise fails to address the powers under which this Royal Commission of inquiry will either examine, override or usurp the findings of the earlier inquiry.
There are no published terms of reference yet provided for this Royal Commission of Inquiry and this an important issues for consideration.
These are relevant matters considering the conduct of Teoh’s family appointed counsel and their star expert witness at the first inquiry. Dr. Pornthip who lied to that first inquiry.
In her own words she said with words to the effect that ‘she gave conflicting and misleading evidence as to how Teoh Beng Hock died’ ‘in order to force a second autopsy and inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock’.
Her counsel Karpal Singh failed to bring that particular element of her testimony ad evidence to the court’s attention as he ought to have (as an officer of the court) and neither did he Karpal as counsel advise Pornthip to withdraw her misleading statement in this regard.
Are either of these parties now to participate in the Royal Commission of Inquiry? (Pornthip was never described by herself or her counsel as being an expert witness for the inquiry which ought to have been the case). Instead she claimed to be an expert for Teoh’s family and someone who speaks for the dead.
The point here is that she was not impartial or an expert witness in the first inquiry. Even if she were admitted and recognized properly as an expert witness at that inquiry, she was not impartial and not intending to be so in her own words. Pornthip failed to establish her credentials properly before that first inquiry and her evidence is of no relevance or probative value to that first inquiry or to the Royal Commission. The rules were simply not followed.
SKILLS AND KNOWLEDGE DEFICIT A PLAGUE ON THE HOUSES OF LAW
Self respect, professional competence, knowledge of the law and politics appear to be commodities in short supply in Malaysia’s privileged legal fraternity. The willingness of the Malaysian Bar to prostitute itself, by lobbying Teoh’s family to be included in that lynch mob so desperate to engineer an outcome that would give legitimacy to Karpal Singh and the DAP’s outrageous claims that Teoh Beng Hock was murdered has to be condemned.
How and by whom was Teoh murdered, if he indeed was murdered, not even their star witness and self proclaimed expert Dr.Pornthip, high on her 3 inch platforms and ego could say. Pornthip in her own words ‘speaks for the dead’. A medium perhaps? More like mediocrity on high heels.
Teoh Beng Hock’s death and the circumstances surrounding it was the subject of a controversial, political and speculative inquiry. It was nonetheless a legitimate inquiry into the circumstances surrounding his death. There have been no recorded challenges to the validity, legality or standing of that inquiry. That’s an important question for the Royal Commission under Justice James Foong to consider. But will they do so?
Further and more importantly on what grounds are the findings of the first inquiry to be appealed or reviewed if it is not to be evidence in the Royal Commission inquiry.
THE FIRST INQUIRY
In the absence of a proper mechanism for inquiring into suspicious or unnatural deaths, such as a coronial inquiry is (as is the proper forum in more advanced jurisdictions), Malaysia’s Attorney General ordered an inquiry of a not too dissimilar structure into the death of Teoh Beng Hock.
This one was headed by a magistrate. In all respects it was a corornial inquiry (a hearing of an inquisitorial nature) and not a contested hearing of an adversarial nature as Karpal Singh hijacking that inquiry had mistakenly believed it to be.
At that inquiry were legal representatives from each of the Attorney General’s department representing the government and from the family of the late Teoh Beng Hock.
For effect the DAP and the Malaysian Bar rolled out Teoh’s former fiancé as a prop then added another spectacle to their theater of war with Dr. Pornthip. With her they ended up creating a venomous mix of personalities, theories and political ideology for effect.
They relentlessly attacked the MACC, the Attorney General and government in and out of court and brought the court in that inquiry into disrepute by their collective misconduct.
Pornthip turned out to be an incredulous, controversial, self-promoting Thai forensic pathologist and self proclaimed expert on unexplained deaths.
The focus and purpose of the inquiry had been well and truly hijacked by Karpal Singh, Deo and the DAP by now. Further polluting the well were a gang of bloggers whose feedstock and stock in trade is anything anti government, anti Islamic and anti Malay.
Pornthip a creature of Thai politics (appointed by the Thai government to her position) had no legal standing to deliver an expert’s opinion in a Malaysian court. The point was unfortunately lost on the court and to all of the other participants in attendance.
Credibility and the credentials of Pornthip were aggressively protected from scrutiny by her over zealous lawyers and by her own resistance to probing questions put to her about her qualifications, standing and expertise.
Added to this was her utter inability to articulate herself in any universally understood language. Brazen was her arrogance and the lies to the inquiry via the media and in open court.
It did not help that the Attorney General’s counsel was a tad timid in the face of a relentless, inexcusable and unprofessional tirade of abusive conduct by a misdirected Karpal Singh and his team bent on using the court as a political forum and PR stage.
The consequence of the media circus of that first Teoh Beng Hock inquiry, coupled with the ineptitude of Teoh’s legal representatives Karpal and Deo Singh added a new unwanted dimension to the now destructive farce.
Introduced into evidence were misleading claims of murder, irrelevant and untrue statements by Pornthip and false manufactured evidence by that fugitive from justice, Raja Petra Kamaruddin (with his mystery unsigned letter purported to be from serving members of the MACC which he scanned and published in his infamous blog Malaysia Today).
All that this served to do was to taint crucial evidence, demolish the power and authority of the inquiry rendering it incapable of any other finding that what it made in the end.
Against their most optimistic expected outcomes, the inquiry justifiably ended drawing the only conclusion it could have with an ‘open finding’ into the cause of Teoh Beng Hock’s death. But that clearly would not suffice for Karpal, the DAP and the Chinese community.
There was no Malay public official, no UMNO apparatchik, no ministerial scalp to be scarified on a Chinese altar to the god of opposition.
The DAP through Karpal and Deo were unable to establish anything beyond a product of their collective incompetence and biases and by their persistent claims Teoh was murdered. Their capacity to shout, yell and scream during proceedings was only dwarfed by the sheer audacity of their star witness Dr.Pornthip who appeared at the inquiry after having in her own words misled the court, perjuring herself, then producing no evidence of any substance to support or prove her outrageous and mischievous claim that Teoh was murdered.
Pornthip made absolute statements about matters she had clearly no demonstrated capacity or expertise as an expert to comment on. Yet she did so without a shred of credible evidence to support her claims and her testimony. Karpal and Gobind Deo Singh allowed her to indulge herself in full glare of the media without flinching at the gravity of her offence of lying and misleading the inquiry.
The inquiry it seems to Karpal, Deo and Pornthip had nothing to do with the search for the truth and facts of Teoh’s death as its primary objective. This to Karpal, Deop, Pornthip and the DAP was a full blown contest of an adversarial nature and a fight to the death on political grounds.
Neither side was aware that witnesses and experts in such inquiries do not belong to either side regardless of who pays for their services. Instead all witnesses are obliged to tell the truth and to give opinions based on their recognized level of expertise in any relevant matter before the inquiry (court), to tell the truth in delivering their opinions in support of an ultimate finding of fact into the subject matter before them.
PORNTHIP SUPPLIED THAT FATAL ELEMENT OF DOUBT TO RENDER A FINDING OF MURDER IMPROBABLE
Dr. Pornthip failed miserably having lost the plot in the glare of the media. Whilst she was seduced by Karpal and the DAP into playing to a willing media so hungry for scandal in Malaysia, she provided the critical element of doubt that led the inquiry into concluding that there wasn’t sufficient evidence to support a finding that Teoh Beng Hock was either murdered or committed suicide.
Here’s why: The standard of evidence required to support a finding of any criminal conduct is not the civil standard of “on the balance of probability”. It requires an unequivocal finding based on the criminal standard of evidence which is: “Beyond reasonable doubt”.
Now even if we were to disregard Pornthips bold 80% statistical assertion Teoh Beng Hock was murdered, it leaves an element of doubt of 20% sufficient to cast reasonable doubt on her theory and assertion.
Nothing was made of this point. No one observed or commented on it at the hearing or after it. I will leave the other half of the argument on Pornthip’s expert testimony as evidence for the findings of the Royal Commission of inquiry into Teoh’s death before commenting on it.
CONFLICTS- DOCTRINE OF THE SEPARATION OF POWERS A JUDGES DUTY TO BE IMPARTIAL
The Royal Commission of inquiry into the death of Teoh Beng Hock has been irrevocably tainted and its reputation irreversibly damaged long before it has even had the chance to commence depositions. The Attorney General knows that.
The Malaysian Bar and the Chief Justice, a normally supine cat’s paw to government in Malaysia also knows this I am convinced. If not then, ‘Houston we have a problem’.
But strangely enough and in an about face, the Malaysian Bar who screamed at Dr. Mahathir about executive government interference in the judiciary in breach of the doctrine of the separation of powers, appear not just content to breach that doctrine now, but are also actively lobbying to be a part of that breach now.
Wittingly or unwittingly, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak Prime Minister and the Attorney General have without doubt compromised the Royal Commission by appointing a sitting judge, Justice Tan Sri James Foong, as the commissioner to lead the inquiry into the causes of death of Teoh Beng Hock.
Or could this be a trap for an unwary Justice Foong and the opposition?
Although the Chief Justice has lent his approval to the appointment by default as he must by his silence be said to approve, on the subject on such appointments his silence must be questioned.
The appointment of a commission of inquiry after one has been completed but its findings not appealed or reviewed using due process is not to be welcomed. Malaysia’s previous governments to the present one, have a less than satisfactory record of political interference in past investigations. That is if statements to this effect by the Malaysian Bar and by some members of the judiciary are anything to go by.
An inquiry into the sacking of Tun Salleh Abbas by an Eminent Persons Group empanelled singularly by the Malaysian Bar and approved silently by Abdullah Badawi is the high water mark of the Malaysian bar’s position on the subject of political interference in the judiciary.
The current commission is to be headed by Justice James Foong and five other former justices and eminent persons. It will deliver an interim report then a final report by or possibly after the next general elections or some other opportune moment in Malaysia’s turbulent political cycle.
JUDICIAL INDEPENDENCE AND WHY JUDGES SHOULD NOT SIT OUT OF COURT OR AT THE BEHEST OF EXECUTIVE GOVERNMENT
In announcing the committee of inquiry, which he has said will have the powers of a royal commission, Datuk Seri Najib Razak has failed to acknowledge it is unusual for a sitting Supreme Court judge be appointed to head a commission. Here’s why it is unusual.
It is common knowledge, a well-tested and accepted convention that a sitting judge should not head a commission of inquiry of the nature of the Teoh Beng Hock Royal Commission of Inquiry, conducted under the auspices of executive government.
“The rationale for that view has been the recognition that the core function of the judiciary is the determination of matters in court, by the delivery of judgments enforceable by process of law; and the fundamental importance of preserving the confidence of the public in the judiciary’s discharge of that function, which could be impaired were judges to be unnecessarily involved in the political controversy which often surrounds such inquiries.”
(Paul de Jersey Chief Justice Supreme Court of Queensland Australia)
As it turns out, the subject matter of this inquiry is highly contentious and controversial, and the findings undoubtedly will have the potential to impact on a change of government, loss of confidence in the judiciary and further divide an already highly charged racially polarised Malaysia.
In the first inquiry, Karpal Singh’s misleading and highly charged statements about Teoh’s death added to the DAP and Malaysian Bar’s own highly slanted views on the subject matter added a definitive and indelible political complexion to the whole affair.
Responsibility for such a non-judicial exercise as that which Justice Foong is embarking upon must not be cast upon a serving judge, for two reasons:
a) the strictly judicial role of a judge will be blurred or compromised, in the context of public perception if he does accept and act in the role; and
b) the prospect of reasonable continuing relations between the executive and the judicial arms of government will unnecessarily be jeopardised.
It is widely accepted though that the judiciary must adhere to the convention that a serving judge ought not accept appointment to head a commission of inquiry whilst he is a sitting judge of the courts and especially so when the matter of the inquiry is political and controversial and properly belongs in the domain of the courts.
It is further argued that the commission of inquiry could easily stray into political matters, eroding public confidence in the independence of the judiciary, not that there is much confidence left in the Malaysian judiciary. This inquiry is highly political and thats a position thats now undeniable.
CONFUSION OR CONFUSIONISM?
Strangely though the Malaysian Bar appear content to taint and compromise the independence of the judiciary where it suits their political purpose of supporting the opposition in Malaysia.
But do Justice Foong and his clearly political supporters especially the Malaysian Bar and Teoh’s supporters understand these issues and the dangers his acceptance of the appointment poses not only to his reputation as a judge, but also to the credibility and the perception of independence of the judiciary as a whole? Is there not a crisis of confidence in the judiciary already in Malaysia according to the opposition and the Malaysian Bar?
Is this the Malaysian Bar’s and the Chinese community’s idea of justice? Only when a Chinese person dies in custody it is called murder. But not so when others who die in similar circumstances in custody and where evidence of murder is more compelling in their cases?
It is clear that the present inquiry involves the real potential for political controversy as to administrative conduct of successive state and local government administrations as much as it has for the MACC.
Whoever decided that the investigation into Teoh’s superiors was conclusive enough not to lay culpability on his superiors for his demise? They would have had more reasons to silence him if not kill him if he indeed was murdered.
Considering the historic involvement of the Chinese Triads in lucrative government contracts and their connection with Chinese Members of Parliament in Malaysia and all of Southeast Asia traditionally, it is difficult to ignore the likelihood of their involvement in Teoh’s death.
The issues for inquiry may become far more politically charged than first imagined. Tan Sri James Foong J may have walked into a trap set for him and the Malaysian Bar by a vengeful government perhaps? Whatever the outcome, Tan Sri James Foong J and his credibility as a judge and jurist will remain tainted and forever brought into question for his lack of understanding of something as basic as the doctrine of the separation of powers.
This is a task a judge accepts at the behest of government. Aren’t the three branches of government meant to be separate?
If as is claimed by Teoh’s family and by Karpal Singh that Teoh was indeed murdered, and if such a finding is not possible by this Royal Commission of inquiry into his death, the DAP in all its forms must accept blame alongside counsel acting for the Teoh family, for their outrageous conduct at the first inquiry into Teoh Beng Hocks death. In so doing they may have forever dislodged from the processes of law in the Royal Commission, critical evidence by their negligence, their unprofessional and politically driven conduct, which sabotaged the first inquiry.
That opportunity having been lost to establish the real cause of Teoh’s death, speculation, lies and exaggerated claims by counsel and their witnesses now make it virtually impossible for a credible finding of any sort into Teoh Beng Hock’s death, barring a political compromise. And that’s where the problem lies for Tan Sri James Foong J and the nation.