The children of the late Allahyarham Jalil Ibrahim are now in their late 20s and early 30s wondering 'is there still justice in Msia?'
Article below is extracted from NST dated 27 Nov 2005.
CATCHING UP WITH...: Gone, but never forgotten
It has been 22 years since the BMF scandal paralysed Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad. The bigger story was the murder of BMF assistant general manager Jalil Ibrahim, who was sent to Hong Kong to investigate alleged irregularities at the bank’s subsidiary. SARBAN SINGH revisits the case and talks to Jalil’s widow, Rosnawi Ibrahim, on life after his death.
JALIL Ibrahim would have been a grandfather if he were alive today.
Not many remember the bespectacled former student of the Royal Military College who was killed in Hong Kong in July 1983 while investigating a case involving the fraudulent award of RM2.5 billion (then) in loans by Bumiputra Finance Berhad to the Carrian Group helmed by Malaysian businessman George Tan.
He was killed by another Malaysian, Mak Foon Than, who was eventually sentenced to death by the Hong Kong High Court.
The case received wide coverage as the names of several Malaysian politicians were dragged in. The Carrian group’s spectacular collapse the same year was also to become Hong Kong’s largest bankruptcy.
BMF was the subsidiary of BBMB, which was then Asean’s largest bank.
Jalil’s wife, Rosnawi Ibrahim, says her Malacca- born husband had always liked working with figures and that was why maths and accounting were his favourite subjects in school.
A bright student, he went on to pursue a degree in accountancy at New Zealand’s Christchurch University.
Upon his return in 1971, he was offered a position to teach at Sekolah Datuk Abdul Razak, one of the premier schools in Seremban.
That was where he met Rosnawi, a teacher at the school. They married in August 1974.
The following year, Jalil applied to join Bank Bumiputra Malaysia Berhad and was made an officer at its internal audit department.
Rosnawi, who had just completed her degree from Universiti Malaya, was transferred to another premier institution, the Tunku Kurshiah College.
A hardworking and honest officer, Jalil was promoted quickly. In 1980, he went to Switzerland’s Imede University to do his Master’s in business administration.
Rosnawi said upon his return, the management didn’t know where to put him. "They moved him from one department to another but Jalil knew his calling was doing audit work."
In early 1983, the BBMB management discovered irregularities in the award of loans amounting to RM700 million by BMF to three property developers — the Carrian Group of companies, Eda Investment and an individual, Kevin Hsu.
Jalil was sent to Hong Kong to conduct an audit. Within a month, he submitted a report, and among the questions raised was the identity of the Malaysian who owned 25 million shares in the ailing Carrian Group and whether the loans were given out simply because the borrowers were well connected.
He then wrote to a Malaysian politician asking him to confirm whether he owned the shares.
As Jalil unearthed more irregularities, he was required to travel more often to Hong Kong.
In early July 1983, Jalil returned home to celebrate Hari Raya with Rosnawi and their children in Seremban and his mother Bebe Ahmad in Malacca.
It was to be his last visit back alive. After spending 10 days in Malaysia, he left for Hong Kong again.
But before departing, he handed over a confidential report to his superiors on the wrongdoings at BMF.
Jalil, who was the head of the internal audit department by then, was back at his desk at BMF Hong Kong the next morning when he received a call on his direct line.
He left just before noon and, according to police investigations, he went to the Regent Hotel to meet a Malaysian businessman.
He reportedly told his staff that he was going to meet a "Datuk". The next day, police found Jalil’s body at a banana grove at Taipo Kau village in the rural New Territories.
However, it was only 48 hours later that Rosnawi was informed of the murder.
At the time of his murder, the eldest child, Ruzail Fitri, was only eight, the second, Razman, was in kindergarten, Ros Anita, the couple’s only daughter, was three and the youngest, Ahmad Razlan, six months.
"He used to write to us every week. He sounded very tense and would tell us how selfish some people in the finance company were," says Rosnawi, who retired in December 2000.
The autopsy report and police investigations later revealed that Jalil was strangled with a white bathrobe belt. His body was stuffed into a large suitcase, which a porter at the hotel was told to cart through the Regent lobby and load into a taxi trunk.
Suddenly, Rosnawi’s world was shattered. She had four young children and the future seemed bleak.
"But I was lucky because I had nine siblings who used to come around every time.
"My in-laws and colleagues also provided me with plenty of emotional support."
Rosnawi, playing the role of both father and mother, made sure her children received proper education and grooming. The children repaid her sacrifices by graduating from university.
Ruzail went to Universiti Utara Malaysia, Razman to Cornell University, Ros Anita completed her Master in Engineering at Imperial College in Britain, and Ahmad Roslan has just graduated from Universiti Teknologi Petronas as a systems engineer.
Ruzail has a two-month- old daughter.
According to Rosnawi, Jalil, who used to commute daily from their home in Seremban to work in Kuala Lumpur was a doting father.
"Although he would go to work before dawn and return only at dusk, he would still pat the children to sleep.
"And as far as the children were concerned, it was only the father who could do that."
She fondly remembers that her husband had a penchant for Fiat models.
Rosnawi never liked her husband’s job because as an auditor, he was required to do a fair bit of travelling. But she never stopped him because that was what he wanted to do.
"We sort of got used to him being away from home for long periods. But it eventually sank in that he would never return home."
Yes, she did have her share of problems bringing up the children as a single parent.
"Like any other children, mine too would rebel at times. But it was never a major problem."
The BBMB management, she added, was also kind enough to subsidise her children’s education through university.
Although she is grateful to God for her children’s success, Rosnawi had hoped that her daughter would take up medicine.
"But when she told me that she wanted to be an engineer I gave in to her wishes."
Jalil’s colleagues described him as a dedicated and honest employee.
"He was a workaholic. When I visited him once in Hong Kong, he was so busy that he could hardly find time to show me around," says Rosnawi.
"It was the wife of his colleague (another BMF assistant general manager) who took me around."
She says Jalil, being a Malacca-born, loved asam pedas and kicap-based dishes, was an avid sportsman, with football, hockey and badminton his favourites.
Asked if she was prepared to forgive her husband’s killer(s), Rosnawi, after a brief silence, says, as a Muslim she would be compelled to do so.
"But whatever I do, he would never come back alive. My religion teaches us to accept and forgive."
She added that the question remains whether the convicted murderer acted alone or was part of a bigger conspiracy.
Jalil was missed most whenever her children graduated from university and when the couple’s eldest son got married.
Rosnawi says Jalil was a disciplinarian probably because of the training he received at RMC.
"But he was not really strict with his children because they never gave him much trouble.
"But in school, he was feared. He was known to use military-style discipline when teaching."
Rosnawi lives in the same house the couple bought after they got married.
Asked why none of her children followed their father’s footsteps, Rosnawi said Ruzail was interested but never applied to join the banking sector.
"Maybe it was because at the time he graduated, the country was facing an economic crisis."
What does she do now that she is retired?
"Well, I attend religious classes and, whenever possible, lend my support to associations whose cause I believe in."
BMF, scandal of scandals