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The Bala Subramaniam Interview

part 1

part 2

part 3

Any reasonable person would draw the conclusion that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is somehow linked to the disappearance of P Balasubramaniam, according to the private investigator’s lawyer. “The facts seem to point to the possibility that they wanted him out of the way and delegated this job to others close to them to execute,” said Americk Singh Sidhu (left) in an interview with Malaysiakini. “As matters stand, I am concerned about the involvement of Nazim (Razak), Najib’s younger brother. The question is why would he have an interest in Bala’s disappearance if it were not to protect his brother?” asked Americk.

Balasubramaniam recently emerged from hiding to reveal that he had met Nazim, an architect, the night before he made a dramatic reversal and recanted his first statutory declaration in which he alleged that Najib had close ties with murdered Mongolian woman Altantuya Shaariibuu. Balasubramaniam also claimed that he was offered RM5 million by one Deepak, a businessman close to Najib’s wife, Rosmah Mansor, to retract his first statutory declaration. Najib had repeatedly denied speculations that he was behind Balasubramaniam’s retraction. In the interview, Americk recounted how he was introduced to Balasubramaniam, on his reaction to the retraction of Balasuubramaniam’s first statutory declaration and his subsequent meeting with the former police officer after he emerged from hiding a year later.

The lawyer also revealed that the video recording of his interview with Balasubramaniam three months ago was secretly taken as an “insurance in the event he was apprehended by the parties involved in his departure from this country over a year ago”. “He did not know he was being filmed at that time but we did inform him of this later and he understood why we did it,” said Americk. According to him, while Balasubramaniam may have committed an offence under the Statutory Declarations Act 1960 for giving conflicting statutory declarations, he could nevertheless defend himself against the charge as it “would appear he was coerced, intimidated and/or forced to sign the second statutory declaration under duress”. But those who allegedly instigated the swearing of the false second statutory declaration – Deepak, one ASP Suresh and lawyer M Arunampalam – are also liable to criminal charges for abetment and conspiracy, added Americk. “In so far as Nazim is concerned, he was involved in criminal intimidation of Bala besides a possibility of being roped into the abetment/conspiracy charges arising from the creation of the second false statutory declaration.”

Malaysiakini: When did you first meet Bala?

Americk: I first met Bala sometime in April or May 2008. I was having some early evening drinks with some lawyer friends of mine at ‘Fogles’, which is a delicatessen/bar at Plaza Damas. We were later joined by ASP Suresh and Bala. One of the lawyers I was with, M Puravalen, introduced me to them. I had no idea who they were before that. I had not been following the Altantuya case very closely so I had not realised that Abdul Razak Baginda had a private investigator assisting him and this was Bala. I then started enquiring about this whole saga out of curiosity. Puravalen had been involved in the Altantuya case as he was the first counsel Abdul Razak Baginda had engaged before he was discharged and a new counsel engaged, and so he enlightened me as regards the more salient facts. I am not sure how ASP Suresh featured in all this but he appeared to be a good friend of Bala’s and appeared to have his interests at heart. Eventually some of the other lawyers left and the restaurant started closing so we decided to move on to ‘The Backyard’ pub in Sri Hartamas, which is only a short distance away from Plaza Damas. There were four of us Bala, myself, ASP Suresh and Valen.

We were drinking and still discussing the whole Altantuya murder case as I found it fascinating. Sometime later (Subang MP and lawyer) Sivarasa Rasiah walked in. I know Siva as he is also a friend, but we are not very close. We asked him to join us. He also listened to what Bala had to say and after that suggested Bala get someone to record everything. Somehow I was chosen to do this as everyone felt I was the one lawyer who did not have an agenda in this matter as I was someone neutral. I agreed and that was when I made an appointment for Bala to come to my office so that I could record all he had to say. The recordings occurred about two or three times over a period of about two months and lasted a few hours each time.

Malaysiakini: How did you feel when Bala came out with the second statutory declaration? Did you attempt to contact him?

I received a call from a member of the press at about 9.30am on July 4, 2008 asking me why my client, Bala, had called a press conference for 11am that morning at the Prince hotel. I was a little surprised as I had no idea what this was about so I proceeded to call Bala, who did not answer his phone. I then proceeded to make further enquiries only to find out that Bala had purportedly been represented by another lawyer, one Arunampalam who had spoken to the press at that press conference on behalf of Bala and had said that Bala was retracting the contents of his first SD as he had been forced to sign it under duress. When I came to know of this press conference and what transpired thereat, I was absolutely flabbergasted. Bala and I had spent two months and many hours over the first SD to ensure it was absolutely correct and for him to deny the contents in the space of 24 hours did seem incredible to me.

Bala had anticipated that he would be arrested by the police after releasing the first statutory declaration and he told me so. This is why he had handed over his mobile phone to me for safe keeping before he left my office the evening before as he did not want the police to download information from it. We were therefore preparing for his arrest and then to go to the police station he was being held at to represent him. I never expected him to have been ‘hijacked’ by the personalities involved, and I am sure, neither did he. It is also worth mentioning here that this lawyer, Arunampalam, was not engaged by Bala to represent him at the press conference at the Prince hotel despite the fact that Arunampalam has said Bala called him and asked him to do so. This is a blatant lie. Bala does not know this man and had never met him prior to that press conference. In fact, it is well-known that Arunamalam does legal work for Deepak and this can be substantiated quite easily. There is no doubt in my mind that Bala was forced, coerced, threatened and intimidated into signing the second statutory declaration.


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