The Inspector-General of Police, Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar is on the losing side in his spat with former police commando, convicted murderer of Mongolian Altantuya Shaariibuu and fugitive in Australia, Sirul Azhar Umar.
Sirul had accused the IGP of lying when the police chief said that he had sent his men to Australia to meet the fugitive.
Sirul, who is currently held in the immigration detention centre in Villawood, Sydney, has categorically denied this in his phone interview with Malaysiakini, declaring unequivocally:
“Let me tell you, there were no officers or police personnel who met me in Australia.
“He (IGP) is lying to the police force and lying to the public with his claims, and is trying to protect his boss.”
Accused of lying, the IGP maintained that his officers had questioned Sirul Azhar Umar in Australia, and challenged the former commando to “spill the beans” if he indeed has new information.
Khalid said: “Sirul is a desperate man who is resorting to desperate measures to save his life. He is doing his best not to return to Malaysia where he will be facing the death penalty.
“As such, he is doing his utmost to bring into disrepute and cast doubt on the investigation into the murder case, his involvement therein and the criminal justice system.”
Khalid is right that Sirul is a desperate man who is resorting to desperate measures to save his life, and doing his best not to return to Malaysia where he will be facing the death penalty, but that does not mean that Sirul was not telling the truth that he was acting orders when he and Azila Hadri murdered Altantuya and blew up her body with C4 military explosives.
Furthermore, Khalid has not disproved Sirul that the IGP was lying in claiming that police officers had questioned Sirul in Australia after the former police commando had absconded to Australia as a fugitive.
Why did Khalid leave such a big hole in his argument, when he could have strengthened his case by just naming the police officers and the date or dates when they met Sirul at the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney?
It is not too late for the IGP to do so – to reveal who were the police officers who were sent to Sydney to question Sirul and the date or dates, and lets see whether Sirul could still maintain that the IGP was lying?
If the IGP is unable to do so, public opinion will be on the side of Sirul that he had been lying about the police having met Sirul in the Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney. It is for the IGP to explain why he had to resort to such a lie.
This however does not mean that Khalid was wrong when he said that Sirul is a “desperate man who is resorting to desperate measures to save his life”.
Who would not be in Sirul’s circumstances, especially if his claim that he was acting under orders was correct?
Khalid cannot deny that Sirul struck a sympathetic chord when he said:
“I was under orders. The important people with motive are still free.
“If I die today, I would not find peace. I did what I was told and this is what I get in return.”
It is not that Sirul should not pay his dues to society for his heinous crime of murdering Altantuya whom he did not know and continued to refer to her as the “Chinese woman”, but is it fair to hang Sirul for obeying orders when the mastermind who gave the order is allowed to get off scotfree, without any effort by the authorities to identity who gave the order?
Khalid is right that in his desperation, Sirul is doing his best to avoid the death penalty and his action is tantamount to a challenge of the integrity of the investigation into the murder case, his involvement therein and the criminal justice system.
But Khalid is not so naïve as not to know even without Sirul’s challenge, many right-thinking Malaysians entertain grave doubts about the integrity of the police investigations into the Altantuya murder case, the involvement of the two ex police commandos and the criminal justice system – and such doubts affect not just ordinary citizens, but important personalities in society including Tun Mahathir, the fourth Prime Minister who had headed the government for 22 years!
Khalid challenged Sirul to “spill the beans”. This is what Sirul should do if his claim that he was acting under orders was the truth, and this is also why I had suggested that the two former Prime Ministers, Tun Mahathir and Tun Abdullah should go on a national mission to Villawood immigration detention centre in Sydney to witness Sirul “spilling the beans”.
Would Khalid endorse the proposal for the two former Prime Ministers being despatched to Sydney to allow Sirul to “tell all” about the murder of Altantuya?
May be Khalid can himself accompany the two former Prime Ministers to Sydney for this unprecedented event?