Was Bala’s second declaration made under duress?

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balaAliran views private investigator P Balasubramaniam’s two contradictory statutory declarations with shock and concern. It is difficult to believe that he could have retracted his earlier statutory declaration dated July 1, which implicates and condemns the Deputy Prime Minister’s involvement with Altantuya Shaaribuu, within a matter of three days. His latest statutory declaration dated July 4 retracts every thing that he had solemnly sworn “consciously believing the same to be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.”

When he disclosed the contents of his first statutory declaration at the press conference on July 3, he was in the presence of his lawyer, Americk Singh Sidhu. His lawyer even clarified that Balasubramaniam made the statutory declaration because the prosecution had wrapped up their case against Abdul Razak Baginda without raising his revelation to them in the course of the trial. What he had revealed to the police implicated Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak.

According to Americk, Balasubramaiam wanted to bring to light the available evidence and tell the police and the prosecution that the private eye was at their disposal at any time. Up to this point there was no mention of any coercion or duress from any quarter that compelled the former police officer to appear at the press conference. We could only observe the voluntary nature of his conduct and it did not go unnoticed that he was at the press conference as a concerned citizen whose primary duty was to ensure that justice prevailed.

But his second statutory declaration retracting his earlier declaration raises all sorts of questions. If the first one was a false declaration as he now claims, how are we to believe that his second one is not another concocted story? How are we to believe that his latest declaration was made freely, voluntarily and not under duress?

It also does not go unnoticed that he came up with his retraction this morning after he had gone to Brickfields to meet an ASP yesterday evening, soon after the first press conference. Malaysians would like to know what transpired last night. Was he turned over by their incredible methods of making people “see the light” as was demonstrated by a top police officer during the first Anwar trial? When did the new lawyer, Arulampalam, get involved in this matter? Who recommended this new lawyer? Even Americk is “extremely surprised” at the change of lawyers.

His second declaration was affirmed before commissioner of oaths Zainal Abidin Muhayat bearing an address reportedly belonging to law firm Zul Rafique and Partners owned by Federal Territories Minister Zulhasnan Rafique’s brother.

This is what makes this sordid affair suspicious and questionable. It is difficult to believe that Balasubramaniam had once again made “this solemn declaration consciously believing the same be true and by virtue of the provisions of the Statutory Declaration Act 1960.”

There is reason to believe that there may be an attempt to suppress evidence borne out by these contradictory declarations. There are hands, it seems, at work to derail justice and bury the truth. What has unfolded in this disturbing episode suggest that there are forces bent on subverting our justice system.

Malaysians are perturbed by this latest turn of events and are not sure what to believe. Is this part of the script so that his first declaration will be thrown out as evidence coming from an unreliable source? Thinking Malaysians will remain sceptical with regard to the second declaration for very obvious reasons.

P Ramakrishnan

President

4 July 2008

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