In the last sequel we saw how Sirul anticipated the worst and fled the country before the Federal Court could throw him back in jail again to face the hangman’s noose.
In mid 2014, Sirul first fled to Thailand to seek refuge. This is when he hatched a plot to demand money in exchange for keeping his mouth shut. This has been established by Mary Ann Jolley, the award-winning investigative journalist, in her expose broadcast by the Al Jazeera 101 East programme in late 2015. (Note from 21.00 minutes onward)
Sirul’s initial demands
Whilst in Thailand, Sirul began contemplating his life and realised his future did indeed look bleak. He felt the deep dark secrets he held were worth something, bearing in mind the predicament he now found himself in, simply for doing someone else’s bidding.
He attempted to communicate these sentiments to whoever would listen and who would take him seriously.
According to the Al Jazeera 101 East broadcast, Sirul managed to contact a gentleman by the name of Abdul Salam Bin Ahmad, a businessman with connections in the right places. Apparently Sirul had worked for Salam as his driver after his acquittal by the Court of Appeal in 2013. Sirul let Salam know that he felt his secret was worth AUD17 million (AUD2 million for his son, and AUD15 million for himself).
Sirul travelled from his hideout in Thailand to Kuantan where he met his ex-wife’s sister who was married to an Australian. Sirul referred to this Australian man as his ‘brother-in-law’. This man was ‘Frank’ in the interview Mary Ann Jolley had with him in the Al Jazeera broadcast. Both he and his wife lived in Brisbane but were on holiday in Kuantan at that time. Sirul revealed his intention to issue demands for money and that he expected to be rich soon.
This excited his relatives. It appears they encouraged him to travel to Australia to further his plans and agreed to look after Sirul and his 15-year old son at their home in Ipswich, which is on the outskirts of Brisbane. No doubt they anticipated a share of the eventual profits.
(The relationship between Sirul and his ex-wife and brother-in-law was later to fall apart because no money materialised)
Sirul flies to Australia
At the ‘Kuantan Summit’ a plan was hatched for Sirul to apply, online, for an Australian Visa (sub-class UD-601) which would allow him entry into Australia for 3 months. This application was successful and he flew to Perth and on to Brisbane on the 19 October 2014. Sirul was now in a much safer place than Thailand or Malaysia. Or so he thought,
Sirul had been invited to stay with his ex-wife and ‘brother-in-law’, at their home in Ipswich. After all, Mr. Potential Money Bags required much tender loving care in a warm and comfortable environment by two very concerned close relatives. They no doubt had Sirul’s welfare at heart after all the trauma he had been through. Poor fellow, all he had done was to shoot a young lady in the head twice at close range, for goodness sake.
Sirul’s 15-year old son later appeared in Ipswich as well, presumably flown in from Malaysia to join his Dad. After all, he was worth AUS 2 million in his own right.
Safely tucked away in his new surroundings and amongst his loving family, Sirul felt emboldened and encouraged to continue with his demands for compensation for the trauma he had suffered. After all, blackmail paled into insignificance compared to murder.
The Visa Extension Application that Failed
Sirul would find out that the biggest mistake he had made in his original online visa application was to tick ‘No’ in the box next to the question: – “Have you ever been convicted of a criminal offence”? This indiscretion was to turn out to his detriment when he later sought an extension of his visa, literally a day before he was arrested by the Australian authorities.
In order to renew his original 3-month visa, Sirul was advised by his ‘brother-in-law’ to lodge what is called a ‘sub-class FA-600 (tourist stream) Onshore Visa’. This was to make sure his investment wasn’t deported. Sirul did this on the 19 January 2015.
On the 20 January 2015, while Sirul’s visa application extension was being considered, the Queensland police, (unfortunately for Sirul), traced him to his safe house in Ipswich. This search for Sirul had been triggered by the Interpol alert issued by the Malaysian police once his acquittal was reversed by the Federal Court back home in Malaysia.
Sirul was escorted to the Ipswich police station, interviewed and subsequently detained under section 189 of the Migration Act. He was promptly transferred to Villawood, where he remains until today.
Sirul’s application for the sub-class FA-600 visa was formally refused on the 21 January 2015, for two reasons; Sirul had failed to declare being involved in a criminal activity and furthermore, the immigration authorities felt, quite rightly, that he was not a genuine visitor.
The Astonishing Text Messages
Just before his arrest and detention, Sirul had been communicating with Salam, his old boss and the ‘middle-man’ in the ongoing blackmail proceedings. The last communication was on the 17 January 2015. In a series of text messages Sirul repeated his demand for AUD17 million.
The text messages read as follows:
Sirul: Jwab message ni boss, kggaroo
(Please reply to this message boss…kangaroo)
Sirul: Assalam boss….dapat tak mesj ini…kangaroo
(Greetings boss…did you get my message…kangaroo)
(Notice how Sirul had taken on a very subtle nickname to disguise his identity and his whereabouts)
Sirul: Assalam boss, sya ssah kat sini, sya nak 2 juta aus dulu sblm boss datang jumpa sya, sya nak utk jaminan msadepan anal kat sini, pastu sya nak 15 juta…aus. seumor hidup sya x akan balik ke msia lagi boss. Sya tak akan jatuhkan pm.
(Greetings boss, I am in difficulties here, I want 2 million aus before you arrive to see me, to ensure my son’s future here, and I want 15 million…aus, for the rest of my life, I will not return to Malaysia anymore boss. I will not bring down the pm)
The response Sirul got from Salam was “Depa nak Bincang”. (Can be discussed).
(Salam was to become a regular visitor at Villawood over the coming months.)
All alone in Villawood
All plans, no matter how well thought out they may be, still sometimes come apart at the seams.
Unperturbed by the devastating change in circumstances, Sirul used this to his advantage instead. Within a month of his arrest, he began broadcasting accusations against the ‘motivator’ of the crime for which he had been convicted and kick-started his demands once again.
This time he was emboldened by the fact that he was safely on Australian soil and behind the protective fence of a detention centre.
Sirul picked up where he left off with Salam, who wasted no time in rushing off to Sydney to try and rescue the deteriorating situation, along with a horde of other terrified personalities with vested interests in Sirul’s reticence.
The shenanigans which went on behind the scenes to prevent Sirul from talking and his application for a protection visa are explored in the next sequel.
The details are indeed very interesting because they reveal the intensity of the dynamics involved and the players who were working on both sides of the divide trying desperately to separate good from evil.