Friday, July 16, 2010

After a grueling fortnight, Bala prepares to return to Chennai

Wong Choon Mei, Malaysia Chronicle

After a grueling fortnight, much of which was spent under the direct media spotlight, private investigator P Balasubramaniam will be making his way back to Chennai, where he will stay until it is safe to return to his own country – Malaysia.

Bala is due to leave London late on Thursday after spending Monday and Tuesday in Paris where he debriefed French prosecutors and SUARAM lawyers on the Altantuya Shaariibuu murder and Prime Minister Najib Razak’s purchase of two submarines when he was defense minister in 2002.

Bala's trip to London began in early July and he was due to meet the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission on the 5th and 6th so that they could record his statement on his by-now famous 2008 statutory declaration and why he fled Malaysia within hours of retracting it.

But it was not to be. The MACC not only failed to show up. They left Bala in the lurch.

“Bala travelled to London on a plane ticket he purchased himself in India from the funds he received from Deepak Jaikishan. He checked into a deluxe room in a 4-star hotel in Notting Hill Gate as required by the MACC. They had promised to reimburse him for his flight and accommodation,” said his lawyer Americk Sidhu in a statement issued to the press on Thursday.

“We were forced to hold a round-table discussion at the Lagenda restaurant Holliday Villa Hotel, London, after the press conference on July 7 because Bala informed us he did not have enough money to pay his hotel bill. He had assumed the MACC would be picking up the tab.”

But cheapskate or not, the MACC did nothing of that sort. And in the end, Americk had to pass the hat around and thanks to those who attended the press conference, including top blogger Raja Petra Kamaruddin, they managed to collect enough to pay for his expenses.

Much has been written about Najib, his wife Rosmah Mansor and their friend Razak Baginda - all three of whom were implicated in the Altanutya murder and submarines graft case by Bala. A lot too has been written about the MACC and its lack of courage and moral responsibility to probe the allegations - without fear or favor.

But beneath the headlines, few remember that Bala is just another Malaysian - a former Special Branch detective, a husband and a father of three children. Yes, he received RM750,000 out of a promised RM5 million to buy his silence, but he has also paid his dues hopping from place to place, fearing for his safety and that of his family’s. He is now also trying to make peace with his countrymen.

To get to the bottom of the scandal and to ensure the cases have the best chance of getting solved, Bala put his neck on the line. He came out of hiding to go to London and then Paris to share whatever he knows about Altantuya’s murder and the alleged kickbacks paid by DCNS.

The private eye is now all-set to fly back to Chennai, where hopefully he and his family can lose themselves in the multitude of inhabitants there. For the sake of their own safety, it is best they lose themselves in the crowd.

What will become of Bala, how will he earn his living, how will he raise his family? For now, let's just hope that he keeps himself and his family well until one day, Malaysia herself becomes safe again for her citizens to come home to.

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