Thursday, 8 July 2010

On Record: First Hand Account of PI Bala's Press Conference in London on the Altantuya Murder Case

Read here for more in Malaysia Today


"Private investigator P. Balasubramaniam and his three lawyers -- Americk Sidhu, Manjeet Singh Dhillon and Amarjit Sidhu -- held a press conference at the Holiday Villa in London yesterday (7 July 2010).

Much of what was said in that press conference was NOT reported by the media.

This (read below) is some of what transpired at that press conference."

- Raja Petra Kamarudin


What the PI Bala PC revealed, but was NOT reported by the media


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Americk kicked off the press conference by telling the assembly that this whole thing started when the PKR Youth leader, Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, lodged a report with Malaysia’s Anti-Corruption Commission or MACC soon after private investigator P. Balasubramaniam’s video interview was released on Youtube (see below).

MACC’s response to Shamsul Iskandar’s report was that they would like to meet Bala to record his statement. However, MACC does not know how to get in touch with Bala so they would like to seek the assistance of Shamsul Iskandar in contacting him (Bala).

On reading this statement by MACC, Americk sent MACC an e-mail to inform them that he is the lawyer acting on behalf of Bala and if they need to meet him (Bala) to record his statement then he (Americk) would help arrange it.

MACC replied by saying that they are not prepared to deal though an ‘unofficial’ e-mail and that all communications must be by way of official letter only. Americk then wrote an official letter offering to arrange the meeting between Bala and MACC so that they could record his statement.

Many months were spent haggling over the venue, date and terms of the meeting. Finally, after ding-donging to-and-fro, it was agreed that the meeting between Bala and MACC would be held in the Holiday Villa in London on the 5th and 6th July 2010. MACC said that they would like to make the arrangements for the meeting room in the Holiday Villa London.

However, no booking was made for any meeting room in the Holiday Villa London. Americk then wrote to the Holiday Villa to make the booking on behalf of the MACC and he also told the MACC this. Meanwhile, the lawyers and Bala had already made flight arrangements and hotel bookings so that they could be present in London at least a couple of days before the meeting with MACC on 5th July.

On Thursday, MACC sent Americk an e-mail saying that they would not be coming after all. This was after they had confirmed they would be coming. In fact, they even told the mainstream media that not only would three officers be sent to London but that Bala’s lawyers could be present in the meeting as well.

The problem was, by then, most had already arrived in London and those who were yet to arrive were already in the plane on the way to London. And the reason MACC gave for aborting the meeting was that they could not record a witness’s statement outside Malaysia, as it would not be admissible in court.

As what Manjeet told the assembly, not only is this not true, but in fact there is a provision in the Act that specifically states MACC can record statements of witnesses outside Malaysia. Furthermore, MACC would have surely done their research before asking to meet Bala, knowing that the meeting was going to be held outside Malaysia.

Bala’s lawyers could not accept this excuse as a legitimate reason for aborting the meeting.

What MACC said is NOT true.

In fact, it is opposite to what MACC said.

And did not MACC go to a few countries to record statements of witnesses in the Eric Chia-Perwaja corruption case? Furthermore, added Manjeet, MACC is assuming that Bala would not be prepared to go back to Malaysia to testify in court had the need arisen.

If MACC takes action and charges the ‘right persons’ in court, said Manjeet, certainly Bala would be prepared to testify in court as to what he told MACC on the 5th and 6th July 2010. He would stand by his story and testify in court to support what he told MACC in his meeting with them in London.

Bala’s lawyers are of the opinion that MACC has missed a golden opportunity to get to the bottom of the Statutory Declaration that he signed and the ‘u-turn’ he did barely a day later in what has now been dubbed as SD1 and SD2.

When Bala signed his first SD, it took him two months to prepare it. The following day he held a press conference to inform the world about this SD. Less than 24 hours later, he signed a second SD that contradicted what he had said in his first SD. A few hours later, he and his family disappeared. His nephew subsequently made a police report about the disappearance of Bala and his entire family.

And this was supposed to be the focus of MACC’s meeting with Bala on the 5th and 6th July 2010. MACC was not interested in the Altantuya murder or who may be behind the murder or whether she was having an affair with certain Malaysian personalities or about bribery involving the purchase of submarines or whatever. MACC wanted clarification from Bala as to his allegation that immediately after signing the first SD he was paid money to come out with a second SD to contradict his first SD.

So it was a very specific issue. It was to focus merely on the allegation that after he signed his first SD some parties paid him money to sign a second SD to contradict his first SD. This was merely an investigation into a crime of corruption committed by certain individuals.

Actually, under Malaysian law, corruption is more than just about money. If you can remember, Anwar Ibrahim was arrested, charged, put on trial and found guilty of corruption although it did not involve any money. His so-called ‘corrupt act’ was in allegedly abusing his power to get a witness to withdraw a certain allegation against him.

Therefore, in Bala’s case, whether money was involved or not is one issue. Even if no money was involved and even if only what the guilty parties did was to persuade, cajole, threaten, etc., Bala to sign the SD2 to cancel the SD1, that would also be corruption. And in Bala’s case they used threats plus money to force him to sign the SD2 so that the SD1 could be ‘neutralised’.

Of course, MACC’s focus should have been wider than that. But even if they narrowed the focus to Bala’s allegation that after he signed SD1 certain parties abused their power to threaten him and bribe him to sign the SD2, that in itself would be a good start. And we must remember, Bala alleged that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak’s brother together with Deepak Jaikishan, Rosmah’s business partner, were the two parties who threatened and bribed him. And, to assure Bala that this came from the highest office in the land, they offered to arrange breakfast between Bala and Rosmah Mansor, the Prime Minister’s wife, now given the official title of First Lady of Malaysia, although she is actually Najib’s second rather than first wife.

Bala said he was promised RM5 million but received only RM750,000. And to support this allegation he had prepared copies of his bank statement, pay-in slips, etc., which he was going to hand over to MACC on 5th-6th July. None of the members of the media who attended the press conference on 7th July 2010 asked to see these copies.

I would have imagined they would have all been curious to see whether Bala’s allegation that Deepak Jaikishan had paid him RM750,000 could be proven or not.

I saw the copies of these documents and what I saw certainly supports the allegation that Deepak had paid Bala RM750,000. The dates and amounts reconcile with what Bala alleges. No one else, however, was concerned with the evidence. And considering that MACC’s focus and the statement they wanted to record from Bala centers on the allegation that he was bribed plus threatened to sign the SD2 to cancel the SD1, then the key to the entire issue would be whether Bala has any evidence that Deepak paid him RM750,000 and if he did then for what purpose and on whose instructions.

Everyone shouts about wanting to see the ‘smoking gun’. They want to see hard evidence that there is more than meets the eye and that the two police officers found guilty of Altantuya’s murder had acted on instructions from certain forces in the corridors of power. This smoking gun does exist. But it does not exist in the literal sense. It exists in the form of certain evidence and documents that all leads to the door of those who walk in the corridors of power.

It is unfortunate that MACC called off the meeting which, as Americk said, was a golden opportunity for them to get to the truth. It was equally unfortunate that the media did not demand that Bala prove his allegation that he was threatened and bribed into signing his SD2 with the purpose of contradicting his SD1. He did have the proof. But, somehow, no one wanted to look at it.

Americk told the assembly that MACC cancelled the meeting by sending him an e-mail. At the beginning of this whole thing, MACC had said that they do not deal through e-mails. All communications must be by way of letter to make it official. If by e-mail then at best the communication would be regarded as unofficial.

But then, when MACC cancelled the meeting, they did not send any letter. They sent Americk an e-mail. By MACC’s own standards, this would make the cancellation of the meeting as unofficial. Why did MACC not dare send Americk a letter to officially cancel the meeting? Why unofficially cancel it by sending an e-mail?

This was one more point raised by Americk. MACC had always demanded that all communications must be in writing and must be by way of official letter. Then, when they cancel the meeting, no longer need it be official and by way of letter. A simple and ‘unofficial’ e-mail would do just fine.

After cancelling the meeting, MACC sends Americk a letter asking that Bala reply to a few questions. The letter is marked RAHSIA, which means it can’t be revealed to the public.

Now, there are two things wrong here. First, if Bala’s statement can’t be recorded outside Malaysia because, as the MACC said, it would not be valid, how then can Bala’s reply to their questions be valid since he is replying also from outside Malaysia? Whether the MACC officers come personally to London to meet Bala to record his statement or whether they send a letter to London with a list of questions for him to reply to, would not the same thing apply -- that is, both are done outside Malaysia (in London)?

Secondly, the letter is marked RAHSIA. That means if you are in possession of a copy of this letter in Malaysia then you are guilty of a crime. But since MACC sent his letter to London and since, in the UK, Malaysia’s laws do not apply, then there is nothing to stop Bala or his lawyers from circulating copies to the media.

Furthermore, only the letter is marked RAHSIA. Bala’s reply to the questions in the letter is not marked RAHSIA. So there is nothing to stop the media from publishing Bala’s replies even though they may not be prepared to publish the questions lest they fall foul of the Malaysian government.

Americk told the assembly that he is halfway through preparing Bala’s replies and he held it up for everyone to see. No one asked to be allowed to look at it though. They did not appear interested to know what MACC was asking and what Bala’s replies to these questions are.

Bala and his three lawyers said many other things during the press conference. Some were just reiterating what he had already said before and some were new information. The new information that could be considered interesting is that not only are the two police officers who murdered Altantuya linked to the Prime Minister’s office, but in addition to Musa Safri, Najib’s ADC, we now have Nasir Safar, Najib’s personal assistant, who was at the scene when they picked up Altantuya in front of Razak Baginda’s house.

The point Manjeet was making is that it now looks like all those who are somehow involved in Altantuya’s murder work for Najib. We have his police bodyguards, his ADC, his personal assistant, and his best friend and adviser. Can it be mere coincidental that all these five people who are linked to Altantuya’s murder all work for Najib?

Bala’s lawyers also pointed out that the police detained Bala for 14 days under a section of the law that is used for those suspected of murder. This means Bala was a murder suspect and was being remanded for a murder investigation.

However, earlier, the Attorney General announced that only three people are involved. So, if Bala was being remanded for suspicion of murder then it can’t be only three people who are involved because Bala would be the fourth person.

Why announce that only three people were involved in Altantuya’s murder and then detain Bala for suspicion of murder? Was this to frighten Bala so that he would cooperate and agree to whatever the police wanted?

Bala’s lawyers told the assembly that the police recorded Bala’s statement no less than five times. They took five statements from Bala over the period of the investigation. The police then edited Bala’s statement and made him sign the edited statement.

This is illegal. The police are not supposed to edit your statement. Worse, they are not supposed to force you to sign a statement that the police drafted and which is not what you actually said.

But Bala was facing a charge of murder. At least that was what he was being remanded under. So, if he wants to be set free and allowed to go home then he has to agree into signing this edited statement although that was not his statement but what the police conjured.

When Bala signed his first SD, it was consistent to his statement to the police. In other words, what he signed in his SD1 is exactly what he had told the police. The police already knew what Bala had signed in his SD1 because Bala had already told them exactly the same thing.

This was just some of what was revealed in the press conference yesterday and which the newspapers and online portals do not seem to want to report. Why they would rather keep silent on all these issues and instead just report that Bala said Razak Baginda is not guilty of murder is beyond me. For all intents and purposes, that was merely Bala’s personal view or suspicion and was not what the press conference was all about.

The main focus of the press conference is that Bala was prepared to have his statement recorded by MACC, and that he would have offered them evidence that what he signed in his SD1 is true, and that this is exactly what he had told the police, and that he was threatened and bribed into signing the SD2, and that he can support this allegation with documents.

This was lost to the media people who attended the press conference yesterday.

The PI Bala interview on Youtube

Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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