Americk Sidhu

I posed a question to RPK under the comments section of his article which appeared in his blog on the 11th March 2013 under the heading “The Deepak-Bala marriage: in Deepak’s own words”.

I asked him whether he thought the information he was provided by his ‘deep throat’ in the MACC was credible and whether he believed it, bearing in mind his own involvement in the ‘Bala saga’, practically from day one.

Up to the time I posted this article, I had not received his response. Perhaps it is a little awkward for him to do so as I am sure he cannot possibly have any faith in that information, clandestinely smuggled out of the vaults of the MACC direct to MT. Yet, rather surprisingly, he chose to publish it.

I am not sure what he intended to achieve by disseminating mistruths, more so when he personally knows them to be absolute lies. It would have been different had he said he was aware they were lies. But he didn’t. This was the spin.

RPK knows as much as I do about this matter. He knows what he published is utter rubbish, but I understand the position he has adopted. He quite clearly pointed out that he is entitled to publish hearsay as that is now par for the course. In other words, everyone else is doing it so why shouldn’t he?

The difference between Bala’s 1st SD and what RPK has just published is this.

I had categorically emphasized, at the press conference at the PKR headquarters on July 3rd 2008, that parts of Bala’s SD was in fact hearsay.

I further stressed that Bala was merely repeating what Altantuya and Razak Baginda had told him. He was not alluding to the truth of what had been said but merely to the fact that it was said, to him.

In such a situation, it is open to the personalities implicated in that particular hearsay to retaliate with denials.

This was never done.

Therefore we have to assume that the hearsay referred to by Bala was in fact substantiated by the corroborative evidence of other matters referred to by him, and by the silence of those implicated.

This is how the matter has stood for nearly 5 years now.

This is the reason why I have chosen to avoid making the same mistake those implicated in the 1st SD made, and instead retaliate immediately with this response, although a reticent silence would have been the easier option.

Allow me to start from the very beginning. This is a long story so please bear with me.

Puravalen, (or Valen, as he is known to his colleagues), and I studied law together at the Inns of Court London in 1980/81.

I have had a long and close relationship with Valen for the past 33 years. He has done nothing in that period of time which would make me suspect that he was anything but a forthright and credible member of the legal profession.

I was introduced to Bala and ASP Suresh by Valen at a restaurant (Fogles to be precise) at Plaza Damas sometime in April 2008. It was a chance meeting. Others were present and they can confirm this.

Valen had met Bala 2 years earlier when he was engaged to represent Razak Baginda (before he was arrested). Bala and Razak Baginda were actually in Valen’s office at 7.30 a.m the day he was arrested.

This is when Razak Baginda received an sms from Najib saying “I am seeing the IGP at 11.00 a.m…all will be solved…stay cool” or words to that effect. Razak Baginda showed this sms to both Bala and Valen and informed them it was from Najib.

This took Bala by surprise as prior to this incident, Razak Baginda had never referred to Najib. He had only ever referred to ‘the VVIP’. In other words, Bala did not realize Najib was actually that VVIP until that sms was received.

Back to Fogles. Later in the evening, the subject of Altantuya’s murder was brought up. I had no idea of Bala’s involvement at that stage. As Bala talked, I became more intrigued as to the background to the entire affair.

As the restaurant we were in was closing, we decided to adjourn to the Backyard pub down the road to continue our conversation. This is when Sivarasa turned up and joined us. The discussion continued. Sivarasa felt Bala’s story ought to be documented in a statutory declaration as the Altantuya murder trial was still ongoing at that stage.

Unfortunately I was nominated as the best person to record all this evidence in the form of a statutory declaration as I was considered the most ‘impartial’ person at the table. I had never been involved in politics and had no previous interest in the matter.

So began the meetings with Bala at my office, mostly done at weekends when it was quiet and there were no distractions.

Bala and I went through everything systematically from the time he was engaged to ‘protect’ Razak Baginda from the persistent demands made by Altantuya until the beginning of the murder trial.

As Bala related the unfolding of events to me, I recorded everything in long hand, pausing every so often to ‘cross-examine’ Bala on certain points to ensure his memory was indeed vivid and that there was no embellishment of anything he was narrating to me.

Bala cross checked each detail by reference to the archives he had stored in his lap top, which had remained constantly open before him throughout the entire interviews.

After approximately 2 months of painstakingly sifting through all the material, I began composing a formal statutory declaration in a format which would reflect the sequence of events in an easily digestible manner, as they were a little complicated.

It should be remembered that Bala had already given evidence in the Altantuya murder trial as a prosecution witness. He was rather surprised that neither the prosecutors nor the defence counsel had bothered to ask him any pertinent and relevant questions which would have thrown some light on the events leading up to the murder, especially the chain of command.

What was even more surprising to Bala was the fact that he had provided the police with a lengthy statement similar to that as set out in his 1st SD. This in effect means that the prosecution was aware of his evidence well beforehand, but the ‘sensitive’ issues were avoided wholesale.

This is part of the reason why the SD that I was in the process of preparing was of significance.

I pause to point out at this stage that neither myself nor Bala had had any communication whatsoever with Anwar Ibrahim. He did not even feature in the equation. The entire purpose of this exercise was to ensure justice for the murdered Mongolian girl and her family. There was no political angle involved.

The opposition at this stage was still suffering from shell shock after having made unprecedented gains in the 2008 elections 3 months previously. The Altantuya trial was probably not as important to them as trying to come to grips with having to, unexpectedly, run 5 states.

Sometime at the end of June 2008, there was an inquiry from Sivarasa asking whether the SD was ready. At that time it was almost completed. Siva suggested a press conference to release this SD which we eventually agreed to do at PKR’s head office in Merchant Square, Tropicana.

I wish to reiterate that no one had offered Bala or me any money to do this. If they had, I would have jettisoned the whole exercise immediately and distanced myself from it in no uncertain terms. I believed what Bala had told me as the detail and coincidences involved could not possibly have been concocted.

I am sure Valen will be confirming independently, that he did not receive any money from any party or person for his involvement and neither was he instructed to pay Bala anything, contrary to what has been alleged in RPK’s latest article.

The night before the press conference (2nd July 2008), I was invited by Sivarasa to drop by Valen’s house. Bala, ASP Suresh, RPK, his wife Marina and their daughter and grandchild were there too. This is the first time I had met them. RPK was being briefed by Bala about the SD and the impending press conference was talked about.

We then proceeded to dinner at an Italian restaurant at Plaza Damas. Present at the table were RPK and his wife Marina, Valen, myself, Bala, ASP Suresh, a CEO of a large Malaysian company and his wife.

After dinner I thought it would be best that Bala stay in a hotel that night as we were a little concerned for his safety as the Special Branch were known to have spies everywhere.

I therefore booked a room at the Corus Hotel, Jalan Ampang as it was close to my office and it would be convenient for me to pick Bala up the next morning and drive him to the press conference.

The next morning we attended the press conference at the PKR headquarters at Tropicana.

After that press conference, most of those present adjourned to the coffee shop downstairs for lunch, including RPK and a number of other bloggers, PKR members and the press.

I then drove Bala back to my office in Jalan Ampang. Bala called his assistant Suras Kumar and asked him to meet us there. The intention was to get Suras Kumar to also affirm a SD to corroborate what Bala had stated, as he, (Suras Kumar), had been closely involved in the entire affair involving Altantuya and her demands made to Razak Baginda.

When Suras eventually arrived, I was introduced to him and almost immediately he started to demand money. My reply to him was succinct and unequivocal. I told Suras Kumar he was not getting any money and to ‘get lost’. Suras Kumar left my office. That was the last I saw of him.

While in my office, Bala was continuously receiving phone calls on his mobile phone. ASP Suresh was also with us at that time.

I digress to point out that ASP Suresh kept popping up with Bala from time to time. When I enquired from Bala what his relationship with him was, he told me ASP Suresh and he were friends and that ASP Suresh was a policeman in the D9 division at Jalan Hang Tuah but he had been suspended for some reason. Apparently Bala had assisted ASP Suresh in obtaining phone records as he could get these faster than the police could.

It was also revealed that ASP Suresh was involved in a pub called ‘Madurai’ in Jalan Imbi and Bala used to work there as a ‘bouncer’ when asked.

In fact I had some very interesting conversations with ASP Suresh. His job in the D9 division apparently involved apprehending individuals considered to be ‘hoodlums’, incarcerating them in ‘safe houses’ and interrogating them for information. Once this information had been obtained, these ‘hoodlums’ would be executed with a bullet to the back of the head and their bodies disposed of in various ways, not unlike the way in which Altantuya was.

Now, one of the phone calls Bala received on his mobile phone that afternoon was from ASP Tonny from the Brickfields police station. He had been involved in the Altantuya investigations and therefore had questioned Bala on a few occasions. From the tenor of the conversation he had with Bala on the phone, I got the impression ASP Tonny was glad that Bala had come out publicly and revealed what he knew as it directly coincided with what Bala had been telling the police all along.

The further impression I got from this conversation was that ASP Tonny and his colleagues who had been involved in the investigations, were frustrated by the fact that there appeared to be a cover up in the ongoing prosecution taking place at the Shah Alam High Court.

When ASP Tonny suggested Bala meet him at Brickfields at 6.00 p.m. (after he got of duty), at an ‘ikan bakar’ restaurant to discuss the situation further, I agreed as I felt Bala was in safe hands. This is because ASP Suresh volunteered to drive him there. I did not realize at that stage that ASP Suresh would actually do a flip.

So, Bala left my office at about 5.30 p.m. I escorted him to ASP Suresh’s car (a grey Proton Waja), parked (illegally of course) outside my office and bid him farewell. That was the last I saw of Bala for over 1 year. The rest is history, so to speak.

When Bala surfaced a year later he declared to me all the payments he had received from Deepak. The total amount, including cash, came to approximately RM750K. Bala has disclosed this publicly and has divulged evidence in support in the form of photocopied cheques, for RM50,000.00 each, drawn on Deepak’s company account.

This money had been used by Bala to pay for his expenses in Chennai, which included expensive International School fees (his children were not Indian citizens and therefore could not attend local schools), expensive condominium rental of RM9,000 per month (Deepak had rented it for Bala), and of course all other necessary payments to keep a family of 5 going in a foreign country and also to pay the monthly mortgage payments on his house in Rawang and his car instalments.

Bala emerged from hiding in 2009 and spilled the beans in the video recording he made in Singapore. By that time, all payments from Deepak had stopped. (Actually they had stopped much earlier as Deepak smelt something fishy and had anticipated Bala was going to ‘turn’).

Therefore Bala has had to survive till the present on the RM750K given to him in 2008. Remember he has been unemployed as he is not an Indian national and is therefore not eligible to work there.

To cut costs, Bala moved out of the RM9,000 per month condo and instead rented a small house further out of the city for only RM1,000 per month. He placed some of the funds in a savings account in the HSBC Bank in Chennai to earn some interest. He still has reserve funds.

At the beginning of 2010, RPK very kindly arranged a Dato friend of his to help Bala out financially. He paid for a second hand Toyota so that Bala could drive his children to school (which was now quite far away from his downgraded accommodation) and also contributed towards school fees. This arrangement lasted only a few months. Bala has been left to his own devices and has been surviving on Deepak’s initial contributions since.

This is the correct version of events.

Bala was not paid any money by any person to affirm the 1st SD.

I have been diligently following everything that has occurred over the past 5 years and have received phone calls and text messages from Bala practically every day, updating me on his situation.

I am unable to put it more succinctly than Bala did in his comments on the article written by RPK and recorded by Free Malaysia Today (11.03.2013), that what was produced in RPK’s article was utter bullshit.

RPK is completely aware of all I have said above.

I would have expected him to have, at the very least, expressed his reservations as to the veracity of the information he had received from his ‘deep throat’.

This he chose not to do.

Perhaps the MACC statement ostensibly recorded from Deepak was the one he would have made earlier in connection with the initial 2008 investigations. If that is the case, Deepak’s sentiments then, would, of course, have been to exonerate himself and put the blame on others.

Deepak has since given audio-visually recorded interviews for Malaysiakini in which he has confirmed that what Bala had alleged in his 1st SD was true.

Whilst dust storms are being created to obfuscate matters by allegations of fiscal impropriety on the part of different personalities, the main issue is conveniently being avoided.

The question still remains. Who ordered Altantuya’s murder?

This is what all law abiding citizens of this country want to know.

Bala has provided all the clues at great personal sacrifice and yet he is being slandered and castigated by a bunch of armchair eunuchs who have nothing better to do than to pour scorn on his valiant efforts to pursue what is right.

Has all this been purposely designed to distract from the real issues at hand?

I leave that to you to decide.