The situation in February 2015 was simply this. Sirul was behind bars in a detention centre, in a foreign land, ruled by strict laws, run by an incorruptible government and where people accepted that the rule of law was a necessary evil.
However, unlike Malaysia, freedom of expression is given much latitude in the land down under. Sirul was most certainly ruffling feathers back home with the rhetoric he was allowed to share with the rest of the world.
As soon as word got back to Kuala Lumpur that Sirul had been arrested, his erstwhile lawyers, Kamarul Hisham and Hasnal Rezua Merican (photo above) sprang into action. They contacted an Australian immigration specialist who lives in Perth. This man was well known in his field of expertise. His name is Robert Chelliah. He is a Malaysian by birth. He runs a company known as Australian Migration Agents Pty Ltd based in Perth.
The Quest for a Protection Visa
Sirul’s legal team needed advice on how to obtain an ‘868 Protection Visa’ for him. This type of visa would allow Sirul to be released from detention and to join the Australian community as a free man.
Hasnal contacted Robert and they agreed to meet in Sydney. Robert had already advised Kamarul and Hasnal by email, of the criteria required to be able to succeed in obtaining this visa and that a solicitor and a barrister in Sydney had to be engaged to do the paperwork and the court work respectively.
Kamarul and Hasnal confessed to Robert that there were no funds available to pursue an application of this nature and enquired if it was possible for Robert and the lawyers to assist on a pro bono basis.
Robert said he could do it pro bono himself, but it would be difficult to expect lawyers to do the same.
Robert subsequently introduced Kamarul and Hasnal to a Sydney lawyer by the name of Christopher Levingston, who very kindly agreed to do the necessary legal work at a much-reduced cost.
Very soon thereafter, Kamarul and Hasnal informed Robert that the funding issues had been resolved and they were now in a position to pay Robert and the lawyers. They even paid for Robert’s airfare from Perth to Sydney to attend the meeting hastily arranged in February 2015, which took place at Christopher Levingston’s office on York Street, Sydney.
The attendees at this meeting were, Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin and Hasnal Rezua Merican (Malaysian lawyers representing Sirul), Robert Chelliah (as immigration consultant), Christopher Levingston (as the Australian solicitor) and a gentleman by the name of Khairul.
Who was ‘Khairul’?
Apparently, this gentleman is a lawyer and was at that time the vice-chief of the Johor UMNO youth wing. He resigned a few months later (in June 2015) after Najib failed to turn up at a ‘Nothing2Hide’ dialogue he had organized to thrash out 1MDB issues. Perhaps he saw the light and the writing on the wall long before others did, or perhaps he was a genuinely concerned citizen and couldn’t bring himself to be part of a less than decent regime.
Khairul went on to re-align his efforts on something more worthwhile; his NGO ‘Malaysia Volunteer Lawyers Association’. Well done Khairul.
Apparently, Khairul’s presence at the meeting in February 2015 was to ensure “no Ministers were implicated” and that the “game had to be played according to the ‘Malaysian Agenda’, whatever that meant.
Kamarul posed the query as to whether it was possible for Sirul to be re-tried in Australia as this would strengthen his application for a protection visa. This idea was shot down as soon as it emerged as Australia would never do this.
Robert and Levingston (the lawyer), were then officially appointed and Robert began taking instructions from Sirul by phone.
Sirul remained convinced that Najib would rescue him. He appeared to be torn between accepting his lawyer, Christopher’s advice on the necessary elements required for a successful protection visa application on the one hand and the extensive brainwashing he had been subjected to, by those interested in keeping him silent, on the other hand.
About a week after the meeting at Levingston’s office, another personality emerged as a player in this saga. This was a ‘Datuk’ Ganasan Narainasamy, (photo below) a Malaysian born resident of Sydney. He was entrusted with the task of preventing Sirul from communicating with anyone other than the ‘dream team’ and to attend to all his other needs. Ganasan quickly acquired the nickname ‘Butler’. Rather curiously, he had been recommended by the Malaysian High Commission in Canberra as the person most suited to this particular task.
Meanwhile, Sirul’s lawyers, now flush with funds, began flying into Sydney from Kuala Lumpur business class, and staying at 5-star hotels, on a regular basis.
Robert complained to Kamarul and Hasnal that Ganasan was interfering in everything he and Levingston were trying to do in preparation of the application for Sirul’s protection visa.
What was Required of Sirul to Support a Protection Visa Application
Robert (photo below) had advised Sirul that under section 501 of the Migration Act, Sirul would have to convince the Minister that he, Sirul, was a person of such character that he would not repeat offences in Australia and therefore it would be safe to release him into the community.
It must be remembered that the Australian authorities were by now, fully aware that Sirul was a convicted murderer. Therefore, the intended visa application was going to be an uphill task. Unless of course, Sirul came up with full, detailed and vivid reasons as to why he committed this murder, which would tend to somehow exonerate him from any malevolent intent. In other words, Sirul had to admit he was ordered to shoot Altantuya, and that he wouldn’t have done this had he not received instructions from his superiors to do so.
Sirul finally accepted Robert’s advice and began writing his notes. These notes included a short history of his background, schooling and other details which would paint a picture of a person with absolutely no predisposed propensity to commit murder.
Sirul managed to write out 9 pages in which he implicated the person who gave him the order to kill. Ganasan found out, had an apoplectic fit, and alerted his paymasters.
Levingston was immediately informed that Sirul had been advised by his Malaysian team not to have anything to do with this confession.
Sirul’s attitude began to change after that episode. His lawyers no longer communicated with Robert as they felt he was not acting in accordance with their requirements. Robert had insisted that the only chance Sirul had of obtaining the protection visa was to adhere to the criteria required and that meant full disclosure of the reasons why he committed the murder.
Legal Fees, Who Paid them?
In the meantime, a bill for charges incurred in representing Sirul had been sent by Levingston to Sirul. Levingston issued an account summary and tax invoice dated the 23 March 2015 in which he acknowledged payment by ‘electronic transfer’ of AUD19,980.00, which he had received on the 20 March 2015.
Who paid this bill?
It couldn’t possibly be Sirul could it? He was under detention in a gated facility. It is extremely doubtful he would have paid this bill by ‘electronic transfer’ for three reasons; firstly, he didn’t have access to a computer. Even if he did, he didn’t have a bank account, but if he did, he didn’t have AUD20,000.00. Or did he?
But that didn’t matter. Levingston had confirmed with Robert Chelliah that the funds came from Kamarul Hisham’s law firm account. This was when Levingston paid Robert AUD 5,000.00 for his services from the funds he received.
Requests for comments from Sirul’s lawyers in Kuala Lumpur were eventually responded to, as follows:
“The fees was contributed by an independent source, which I am currently not at liberty to reveal, unless Sirul so permits. I have not been in communication with Sirul since last Hari Raya”
Robert, in an act of sheer unadulterated altruism, donated his AUD5,000.00 fee to Altantuya’s father and helped fund Altantuya’s eldest son’s trip to Sydney to attend an English course for 3 months. It is indeed reassuring to know that there are still many good kind-hearted people in this world.
The next sequel addresses the outcome of Sirul’s protection visa application and the eye-opening revelations made by Sirul in his appeal against the Minister’s refusal to grant him that visa.