An interesting question

Hence the identity of Jasbir Singh Chahl was not clear and no one could confirm whether the restaurateur Jasbir Singh Chahl is the same Jasbir Singh Chahl who was involved in the submarine matter or whether there is another man with the same name.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Why is the Scorpene “architect” surfacing now?

The Malaysian Insider Editorial (28 Jul 2013)

Jasbir Singh Chahl got his 15 minutes of fame yesterday, nearly seven years after Altantuya Shaariibuu was killed and her murder linked to the Scorpene submarines purchase.

Now known as the architect of the submarine deal, Jasbir was quoted in the New Straits Times yesterday as saying there was no links between the Mongolian interpreter and the negotiations, and it was a business arrangement that did not involve corruption.

“I am willing to swear on my holy book, Guru Granth Sahib, that I did not know this person, that she was never part of the team, had never met her, that she was never in France during the entire time we were there trying to close the deal.

“I only knew about her when I read the papers in 2006 that they had found her body,” he told the New Straits Times in a special report entitled, ‘Scorpene: The Untold Story’, published in Kuala Lumpur today.

According to the report, Jasbir was a former staff of Thomson-CSF International (M) Sdn Bhd, the wholly-owned Malaysian subsidiary of France’s Thomson-CSF (now Thales), on the Royal Malaysian Navy’s Offshore Patrol Vessels project, the Crotale man-portable Shorad (short range air defence) system, and other projects of interest to Thomson-CSF and its subsidiaries.

So he should know the deal inside and outside but has decided to only spill the beans now.

Why now? Why didn’t Jasbir say all this the days before three men were charged for Altantuya’s murder or when the submarines had problems diving – which is what they are supposed to do from time to time.

This is a bit like dragging out the New York jeweller months after the so-called diamond ring controversy in Malaysia last year. Like an afterthought.

Has it got anything to do with the French probe into corruption in the deal? And that public opinion perceives the deal to be less than clean?

While it is commendable that Jasbir wants to clear the air over the deal that has been linked to a murder, one thing is clear – he is is doing this because he has a vested interest in the deal.

So why should Malaysians believe what he says when he is an interested party in the deal?

He should explain that, too. Or the NST report ends up as another after thought to cover the tracks of interested parties rather than really clearing the air about the Scorpene purchase.


Those are very valid questions raised in The Malaysian Insider editorial today. However, valid as they may be, this gives the impression that someone in The Malaysian Insider has not been paying attention.

The French government investigation into the behind-the-scenes goings-on regarding the Malaysian government’s purchase of the Scorpene submarines did not commence until after Suaram had launched a complaint with the Tribunal de Grand Instance.

First they needed to establish Suaram’s locus standi in this matter and Suaram’s lawyers managed to convince the court that Suaram is an international NGO involved in human rights work. Later, of course, it was proven that Suaram is actually a registered company.

The court then instructed the French police to start the investigation but to just focus on the corruption element. Altantuya Shaariibuu’s murder was not part of this investigation. The French government was merely concerned about any acts of corruption perpetuated by French companies.

The French police then began to interview and record the statements of various people whom Suaram had identified as being involved in this matter (French as well as Malaysians). Private investigator P. Balasubramaniam, Jasbir Singh Chahl, Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, Razak Baginda, and a few more, were amongst those Malaysians on the list.

P. I. Bala happened to be in London at that time when we received word that the French lawyers would like to see him. So we arranged to send him to Paris where his statement was recorded. (In fact, a friend in London helped pay for that trip plus I gave him some spending money).

Suaram then announced that the French police were looking for Jasbir Singh Chahl. However, Suaram was not sure who this person is. There is one man named Jasbir Singh Chahl who runs a restaurant in Kuala Lumpur and he said that he is not the Jasbir Singh Chahl that they are talking about.

Hence the identity of Jasbir Singh Chahl was not clear and no one could confirm whether the restaurateur Jasbir Singh Chahl is the same Jasbir Singh Chahl who was involved in the submarine matter or whether there is another man with the same name.

It appears like finally they managed to track down the real Jasbir Singh Chahl who was involved in the submarine deal. And the statement of this Jasbir Singh Chahl was finally recorded. And hence only now are we hearing the story from Jasbir Singh Chahl’s mouth, which had remained untold for a number of years.

So, in reply to The Malaysian Insider’s question, “Why now?”, that is why now — because only now has Jasbir Singh Chahl finally been found.