There are three relevant statutory declarations which have been affirmed to date. Two are by private investigator P Balasubramaniam and the latest by Azilah Hadri.
It is almost impossible for two persons to come up with the same identical facts in two separate statutory declarations. There could have been no collaboration between these two gentlemen for the simple reason one was banished to India, and later died, and the other incarcerated in one of His Majesty’s prisons. Unless, of course, they were telling the truth.
Let us begin by re-visiting what Balasubramaniam (hereafter to referred as “Bala”) said in his first statutory declaration (SD1) made on July 1, 2008, and released it at a press conference on July 3, 2008. The contents of SD1 were directed at the prosecution of Azilah, Sirul and Razak Baginda, which was at that time taking place at the High Court in Shah Alam High Court.
Bala was perturbed as he had been called as a witness for the prosecution, but was not asked pertinent questions. In other words, he felt there was a cover-up.
He categorically stated (at paragraph 54) that the purpose of SD1 was to place on record his disappointment with the standard of investigations conducted by the police and that there were others involved, besides those charged.
Bala felt the investigations ought to have been re-opened because he was certain no police officer would commit such a murder without specific instructions from their superiors and that he anticipated both Azilah and Sirul would not testify as to who gave them these instructions.
This has now turned out to be absolutely correct.
The contents of SD1 caused much consternation so much so Bala was forced, by a threat of harm to his family unequivocally, to affirm another statutory declaration the very next day (“SD2”), in which he coincidentally retracted only those allegations he had made against Najib Abdul Razak in SD1.
Bala was then compelled to release SD2 to the press on July 4, 2008. Immediately thereafter, he and his family were unceremoniously whisked off to India, where they spent the best part of the next five years exiled in Chennai.
This has been well documented in the press and is a historical fact. It requires no further elaboration at this stage, except to mention the involvement of Deepak Jaikishan as the reluctant facilitator acting on behalf of both Najib and Rosmah Mansor, much to his retrospective chagrin.
What is important to appreciate is the fact that the specific and detailed retractions Bala made in SD2 were only in relation to Paragraphs 8, 25, 28, 49, 50, 51 and 52 of SD1, the contents of which made reference to Najib only. The rest of SD1 went unrefuted, except for a general blanket retraction made for good measure in the last paragraph.
What Bala said in paragraphs 26, 27, 29, 30 and 31 of SD1 now becomes important in light of the contents of paragraphs 33, 34 and 35 of Azilah’s latest statutory declaration, which we will call “SD3“.
An analysis of the details set out in both SD1 and SD3 tend to corroborate, in an uncanny manner, what occurred in front of Abdul Razak Baginda’s house on the night of Oct 19, 2006. This is a synopsis of what both have similarly affirmed, separately, in their statutory declarations:
There was the presence of a taxi which dropped Altantuya Shaariibuu off at Razak Baginda’s house that evening.
Bala sent an SMS to Razak Baginda informing him Altantuya was there. Razak Baginda sent a message back asking Bala to delay her until “his man” arrived.
Razak Baginda then called Azilah (above) on his mobile and told him the Chinese woman was in front of his house and to act as instructed.
Azilah arrived later with an “L/Cpl Rohaniza” and Sirul in a red Proton after he had received a call from Razak Baginda. He saw Bala and Altantuya standing by a taxi in front of Razak Baginda’s house.
Azilah asked Bala whether the woman was “Aminah”.
Azilah then made a few phone calls on his mobile, allegedly to Musa Safri and Najib but couldn’t get through. He also allegedly called Razak Baginda. These could have been the phone calls Bala says he saw Azilah make.
Aminah was put in the back seat of the red Proton with L/Cpl Rohaniza while Sirul and Azilah sat in the front (Azilah in the driver’s seat), as described by both Azilah and Bala.
Azilah had to pay the Chinese taxi driver before he drove off, confirming what Bala said about Aminah arriving in a taxi.
It is more than obvious from the above that both Bala and Azilah had recounted the events that happened in front of Razak Baginda’s house perfectly well, although both had not seen each other since that evening and have had no means of communicating with each other after the abduction. The only conclusion one can come to in these circumstances is that both Azilah and Bala were telling the truth.
If Azilah is telling the truth about what happened the night Altantuya was abducted, is it not reasonable to assume that the details set out in the rest of his SD3 are the truth as well? Similarly, is it not reasonable to now assume that what Bala said in SD1 is also true?
After Bala and his family disappeared in 2008, the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) was called upon to investigate. This investigation was spearheaded by a very dedicated senior officer by the name of Abdul Rahman Bachok.
This officer was very serious about getting to the bottom of Bala’s forced exile in India. Unfortunately, this proved impossible for him due to the obstacles placed in his way by those who had an interest in making sure his investigations were thwarted.
This particular sequel is intended to establish the groundwork so as to lend fluency to the rest of the story.
The following sequels seek to address the police investigations, the resultant sham prosecution, the players involved and the hidden hands at work.
This article was first published in Malaysiakini on December 27 2019
AMERICK SIDHU is a senior lawyer representing A Santamil Selvi, widow of private investigator P Balasubramaniam, in her lawsuit against former premier Najib Abdul Razak and a number of others over an alleged conspiracy linked to the murder of Altantuya Shaariibuu.
The views expressed here are those of the author