The return of the Ghost of Altantuya: PI’s lawyer – ‘Anwar not behind Bala tapes’ & Bala is away somewhere in India
Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim is not involved in the latest twist to P Balasubramaniam’s sensational allegations against Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, said the private eye’s lawyer.
Balasubramaniam had last year produced a statutory declaration alleging that Najib had close personal ties with murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu.
But 24 hours later, in a dramatic reversal, the private investigator recanted his statutory declaration and subsequently went into hiding in India for over one year.
In August, he re-emerged in Malaysia to stand by his first statutory declaration, saying that threats and inducements were used by certain quarters to make him change his story.
Balasubramaniam’s lawyer Americk Singh Sidhu, in an interview with Malaysiakini, denied that Anwar was behind this latest development.
“Many people think Anwar Ibrahim is behind all this. That is absolutely untrue. Anwar has no idea about this whole episode except what he may have read in the blogs and on Malaysiakini,” Americk told in an interview.
“Anwar had nothing to do with the release of the first statutory declaration except to deliver a speech prior to the press conference at the PKR headquarters last July. I have had no communication with Anwar at all and neither has he or any PKR member tried to contact me.”
The following is the second additional to the three-part interview:
Malaysiakini: Do you think the state institutions, such as the police and the immigration, were involved in this matter?
Americk: I don’t think the immigration authorities were involved. If they were, there would have been no need for a suggestion of bribery to be made to hasten the process of obtaining the passports.
As for the police, I feel they were primed to obtain a statement from Bala to the effect that he was forced to make the first statutory declaration (SD) under duress so that this would lend more credence to the second SD. The whole interview by the Special Branch officers in Bangkok was in accordance with a pre-arranged script orchestrated by Deepak and ASP Suresh with the complicity of the police, which Bala was also told to follow.
Inspector-general of police Musa Hassan said last week that the police were still looking for Bala.
Why would they still be looking for Bala? They had found him in Bangkok over a year ago and did nothing. They were supposed to have been investigating both the first and second SDs to find out which one was sworn falsely. They recorded a statement from Bala himself. They recorded statements from myself and two other lawyers, M Puravalen and Sivarasa Rasiah.
They recorded statements from the commissioner of oaths who attested the first SD. They also recorded a statement from my secretary who typed out the first SD while Bala was sitting in my office.
All these statements showed there was absolutely no coercion in the making of the first SD.
They had all these statements available. They should have been able to decide whether to charge Bala for making a false declaration, and if so which one?
The only reason I can think of for the IGP to say the police are still looking for Bala is to charge him. They couldn’t possibly want to record another statement from him.
Let’s look at this from another angle.
It should be remembered that Bala gave the police a cautioned statement in the Altantuya murder investigations in which he has said certain passages had been deleted by the police as he had mentioned names of certain VIPs.
Just prior to the hearing of the murder charge in court, Sallehuddin (Saidin), a senior federal counsel from the Attorney General’s Chambers, had interviewed Bala extensively and had reduced the interview into a 76-page statement.
Bala has categorically stated that everything he has told the investigators and the federal counsel, which has all been recorded, is exactly the same as the contents of his first SD. All the police need to do is to refer to all these statements and compare them with the contents of Bala’s first SD to see whether they are consistent.
Why do they need to see Bala again? They can easily put two and two together and figure out which SD is the false one. (There are certainly enough witnesses available to show that the first SD was made voluntarily.)
And if they did that they would discover quite easily that the second SD could not possibly be correct in the circumstances, they should charge Bala for making a false second SD. But they can’t do that because it would open a can of worms none of them want opened.
What’s next? What can Bala do to clear his name? Can he return home? Is his life in danger?
The next step should be taken by the authorities. There should be a full investigation into the allegations Bala has made and these investigations should stretch way beyond the question as to which SD is true and which is false.
These investigations should concentrate on revisiting the Altantuya murder case as there are so many questions which remain unanswered. Bala has done what is necessary to ‘clear his name’ by revealing everything that has happened to him over the past 15 months. What more can he do?
I doubt whether he can return home to Malaysia under the present circumstances when it is not even possible for one of the lawyers involved, namely Manjeet Singh Dhillon, to be able to sleep peacefully at night not knowing when the next Molotov cocktail attack on his home will happen.
The whole purpose of these interviews was to protect Bala. If this had not been done, then I think his life would have been in much greater jeopardy for obvious reasons.
Are you representing any party? Is that party paying Bala to recant?
Let me make this absolutely clear. I only represent Bala and no one else. I engaged Manjeet Singh Dhillon as my counsel after the second SD was made to protect my interests as accusations of impropriety were made against me by not-so-subtle innuendo.
There are no unseen hands at play here. I am honoured that two senior members of the Malayan Bar have seen fit to assist me in this whole matter, especially when they have no vested interest in doing so. At least the best traditions of the Bar are still alive and well in these desperate times.
Let me assure you, no one is paying Bala to recant on his second SD. Please remember that it was Bala who contacted me and not the other way around. I had no idea where Bala was until he called me in mid-July this year. He is certainly concerned about his future but that is why he has saved some of the money Deepak gave him.
In fact, he has even moved premises from the apartment Deepak housed him in as it was costing too much. He is now paying very, very much less for accommodation as he realises he has to reduce his expenditure dramatically if he is to survive on the money he has left.
Many people think (Opposition Leader) Anwar Ibrahim is behind all this. That is absolutely untrue. Anwar has no idea about this whole episode except what he may have read in the blogs and on Malaysiakini.
Anwar had nothing to do with the release of the first SD except to deliver a speech prior to the press conference at the PKR headquarters last July. I have had no communication with Anwar at all, and neither has he or any PKR member tried to contact me.
Where is Bala now?
Bala is now back in Chennai with his whole family. We advised him to take his wife and children out of Malaysia to Chennai for obvious safety reasons after the interview was carried out.
Did Bala say anything more about the characters involved in this – as in who Deepak is, ASP Suresh? Has he come under any threats or pressures after his recent interviews?
Bala only said he knew who Deepak was as he had been offered some PI (private investigation) work by his younger brother, Dinesh. He had never met Deepak before.
ASP Suresh… I guess he was Bala’s friend from the time Suresh was working as a police officer at the IPK D9 (serious crime) division at Jalan Hang Tuah, Kuala Lumpur. Bala used to help him trace telephone details on the suspects he was investigating as Bala had connections in these telcos and could get the info faster than the CID (criminal investigation department) guys.
ASP Suresh had actually been suspended as he was under investigation by the ACA for taking bribes. Apparently Suresh also owns a pub called the ‘Madurai’ at the Melia Hotel along Jalan Imbi and had employed Bala as a ‘security officer’ at some time.
ASP Suresh also runs a scrap yard business dealing in wires. This is why ASP Suresh took Bala to his scrap yard on the night he went missing as he obviously needed to do some work while he was also organising and being the go-between in these shenanigans.
Bala has since come to the realisation that ASP Suresh is nothing more than an opportunist who used Bala for his own benefit. Bala believes he was set up by Suresh from the beginning and that Deepak had used ASP Suresh to monitor Bala long before the first SD was publicised, but ASP Suresh took the whole situation as an opportunity to gain some reward for ‘assisting’ Deepak in neutralising Bala. This was his plan from the beginning.
In fact, Bala informed me, long after all this, that ASP Suresh had told him there were people who were willing to offer him RM3 million not to publish the first SD. They knew Bala was going to do this as ASP Suresh was very close to him and was obviously reporting matters back to Deepak et al. Bala of course ignored all this as his mind was made up.
ASP Suresh followed Bala like a hawk in the days leading up to the disclosure of the first SD as he needed to know exactly what was happening to report all this to his bosses.
Remember Bala left my office at 4.45pm on July 3 with ASP Suresh.They were supposed to go and see inspector Tonny Luggan at a restaurant near the Brickfields police station after he got off work at 6.30pm.
That was the arrangement made when Bala was in my office. I encouraged Bala to go and meet Tonny informally as I felt it would have been to Bala’s benefit. And besides, he was with ASP Suresh, a police officer, who gave the impression he was looking after Bala’s interests.
It was ASP Suresh who persuaded Bala not to see Tonny, and instead took him to his scrap yard in Cheras, all the time receiving phone calls from Deepak and organising arrangements to meet him that evening.
ASP Suresh knew at this stage that the stakes were higher which would attract a higher value in terms of a ‘settlement figure’. This is why ASP Suresh was doing all the negotiating with Deepak at the Bak Kut Teh stall in Rawang. First, Deepak offered RM4 million but ASP Suresh signaled Bala to keep quiet and asked for RM5 million instead, which Deepak readily agreed to.
Apparently the deal was that ASP Suresh would get the same figure as Bala as his payment for keeping Bala under control and under wraps.
This is why ASP Suresh is in a state of panic now and has been trying to get hold of Bala by whatever means, even through third parties. ASP Suresh has now been cut off from his supply of finances, and I am sure there are people around who are less than happy with him.
As regards to threats since this interview … not to my knowledge. Bala has moved and no one knows where he is. His family is with him so they can’t threaten them anymore.
The only people who have received threats so far are Manjeet Singh Dhillon, whose house was fire bombed with Molotov cocktails. Mkini