INTERVIEW Almost five years after fleeing the country, the widow of the private eye P Balasubramaniam, A Santamil Selvi, has given her first interview to the media.
driven to do so, Selvi said, after receiving anonymous phone calls
offering her money and education opportunities for her children in
exchange for "evidence" that PKR paid her late husband to make his
infamous statutory declarations.
This was in addition to an SMS hoax
last month that she would hold a press conference to declare that her
husband, Balasubramaniam, had been paid off by lawyers, Selvi told Malaysiakini and KiniTV last Friday.
"After Bala died, they made the offer and I can't take it. That is why I
am giving this interview. Before this, I did not even think of giving
interviews, but I cannot take it (anymore)," she said of the persistent
"That is why I want to tell the rakyat what happened to me," Selvi (left) added in the interview, during which she insisted that her husband was "not in anyone's pocket".
Selvi, who had little clue of what her husband was doing, said on that
fateful day of July 3, 2008 while she was watching news on television,
she was shocked to see her husband appear on the screen.
morning, Balasubramaniam had called a press conference at the PKR
headquarters and announced his first statutory declaration (SD1), in
which he linked then deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Najib
Abdul Razak to the murdered Mongolian translator Altantuya Shaariibuu.
'Bala refused to explain'
However, Balasubramaniam refused to explain what was going on when she
called him, even though he had previously told her about his encounters
She had to wait until 2am the following day to
see her husband, who came home with a relative, a friend and a police
officer named ASP Suresh.
"Bala looked exhausted, tired and
worried. I have never seen Bala like that. I asked him what happened but
he said, ‘I cannot talk. You talk to Suresh'," she said in the
interview, while holding a heart-shaped pillow with a photo of her late
husband printed on it along with the word "Sayangku" (My darling).
Selvi claimed that Suresh told her then DPM Najib was offering
Balasubramaniam RM5 million in a lump sum, RM20,000 a month, and
arrangements for education and for the family to go on a ‘holiday' for a
few months, until he becomes the prime minister, as their lives are
Their passports were prepared later that morning, all within two hours - at that time, the process normally took a week.
This aroused suspicion among the Singapore immigrations officers when
the family reached Changi Airport by land later that day. The sharp-eyed
officers apparently noticed that the entire family of five were wearing
the same clothes as those in their passport photos.
Nevertheless, they were allowed to proceed with their flight to Bangkok, after being briefly questioned.
before departing for Bangkok via Singapore, Balasubramaniam held a
press conference in Kuala Lumpur about a second statutory declaration
(SD2) (left) that he had signed, to retract his SD1.
Najib has since denied any wrongdoing in the Altantuya case, while
Balasubramaniam asserted that his second SD was false and made under
From Bangkok, the family had been constantly on the move
for over a month, fleeing to Nepal and to the Indian cities of New
Dehli, Madurai and Chennai. Eventually, they settled down in a house in
Chennai, the capital of the South Indian state of Tamil Nadu.
"We were there like refugees. My six-year-old would ask, ‘Ma, do you
want me to pack?' as soon as he hears the telephone ring. My heart
aches... as a mother I have never seen my son like that," she said.
Initially they moved on Suresh's instructions and had met with his
contacts along the way, who provided money and facilitated their travel.
Passports taken away
But upon reaching Madurai, Suresh's contact took away the family
members' passports and sent the documents back to Malaysia, and a
meeting held with Suresh in Chennai failed to resolve this issue.
Bala family then sought the help of their relatives to apply for fresh
travel documents, and have avoided contact with Suresh since then.
The promised RM5 million and RM20,000 per month never came, and
arrangements for the children's education in India were not made until
the family secretly returned to Malaysia in 2009 to place the three
children in a school, which Selvi said infuriated Suresh.
That was the only time Balasubramaniam ever returned to Malaysia, she said, until he returned again with much fanfare in February this year.
Selvi said she had been able to return to the family home in Rawang,
and to her dog, Sharibu, which were under her sister's care, from time
"Bala never came back. If I put the phone to
(Sharibu's) ear, it would follow Bala's commands. Sit! And it would sit,
because he trained it since it was little," she said.
She said Sharibu also shed tears when Balasubramaniam died on March 15, after a heart attack. She had never before seen the dog cry.
While in India, Selvi said, her family lived in poverty. She could not
work because they lacked the necessary documents. Bala would have to
think hard whenever his youngest child craved for a meal from KFC, or
when the eldest, who showed promise in drawing, had no paint.
"He drew a picture of his dad at home and these were pretty, but he did
not go for art classes or anything because we could not afford it. If I
had taken that RM5 million, I could have sent him to art school.
"Many people thought my husband took money. I swear upon my husband's
name that he was not paid. Suresh promised, but he did not deliver.
"When he decided to return to Malaysia, I asked him if he no longer
wanted to live, and he replied ‘People first'... He died for the people,
not for me," Selvi said, breaking into tears.
"What have we
done? Is it wrong to tell the truth? Since young, mother taught us to
speak the truth. But this is what became of us for being honest," she
No life of luxury
Selvi said she could have lived a life of luxury in India if the family
had indeed received the money, but now she and her children are
concerned that even this interview could endanger her life.
also expressed disbelief over her husband's death, since he regularly
played badminton with the children while in India and had undergone
medical check-up on the morning of his death.
To a question, Selvi said she had no wish to return to India because she and her children are all Malaysian citizens.
she complained, she could not put her three children, now aged 16, 15,
and 11 years, in school because they were educated under the Indian
syllabus for a number of years and could not continue in government
Private schools in Malaysia offering the same syllabus charge RM30,000 a person annually, which is far beyond her reach.
"So who is going to send my children to school? If the public help...
but for how long? We followed Suresh's instructions, that is RM5
million, right? Maybe I could send them to university, but I didn't get
the money," she said.
Asked what hopes she had for her children,
Selvi said, "I want them to do well in life. I want them to be heroes,
like their father."