Where’s Bala? Cops launch global manhunt for missing PI

Family went into hiding after he denies statement implicating Najib



NO ONE’S HOME: A four-wheel-drive vehicle is parked at the porch of Mr Balasubramaniam’s terrace house. The PI, his wife and three young children have not been seen since last Friday. — PHOTO: CHINA PRESS

THE police in Malaysia launched an international manhunt yesterday for a private investigator who went missing after retracting a claim suggesting links between the Deputy Prime Minister and a slain Mongolian woman.

Mr Balasubramaniam Perumal is believed to have gone into hiding or is being hidden by unidentified parties, Criminal Investigation Department director Bakri Zinin told reporters.

His disappearance has added to the bizarre political drama that has played out in Malaysia since the March 8 general election, when the ruling party was dealt a severe setback.

Since then, both sides have traded allegations of sexual misconduct, conspiracies and assassination plots.

Mr Bakri urged Mr Balasubramaniam to come out of hiding, saying he has nothing to fear.

‘I give a guarantee of his safety if he comes to meet us. And he is free to bring a lawyer to the meeting,’ he said.

‘The police in the country have been put on alert to find him. We have informed Interpol…as well as the police in neighbouring countries.’

Mr Balasubramaniam dropped a political bombshell last Thursday by stating in a sworn declaration that he was told that Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak had sex with Ms Altantuya Shaariibuu, a 28-year-old Mongolian who was shot and killed on Oct 19, 2006.

He made the claim at a news conference with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

He said the source of his information was Abdul Razak Baginda, a prominent political analyst who is on trial on charges of abetting the woman’s murder. Abdul Razak is a close associate of Datuk Seri Najib.

But less than 24 hours later, Mr Balasubramaniam withdrew the statement, claiming that he had made it under duress.

He issued a fresh statement last Friday that said his earlier statement was false, and that Abdul Razak had not told him about any links between Mr Najib and Ms Altantuya.

Soon afterward, the detective, his wife and three young children disappeared and could not be reached on their mobile phones, said Mr N. Surendran, a lawyer for Mr Balasubramaniam’s nephew.

The nephew, Mr R. Kumaresan, has lodged a police report about the disappearance of his uncle and family.

Journalists have been descending on Mr Balasubramaniam’s house in Rawang, a suburb outside Kuala Lumpur. They reported seeing a four-wheel-drive vehicle parked in the porch of the terrace house.

The neighbours, who said Mr Balasubramaniam had not returned home since last Friday, are frustrated at the constant ringing of their doorbells by reporters making enquiries.

‘This has been going on the whole morning, and it is quite annoying,’ said a neighbour, who expressed concern that two Rottweilers belonging to the private investigator had been left with only water.

Mr Najib and Mr Anwar are vying to be Malaysia’s next prime minister, and both face accusations that could destroy their political careers.

Mr Anwar has been accused of sodomising his male aide Saiful Bukhari Azlan.

Both Mr Najib and Mr Anwar have denied the allegations.

Meanwhile, police have recorded statements from 18 people concerning the sodomy report against Mr Anwar, the New Sunday Times reported.

‘To date, we have recorded statements from 18 witnesses, including several doctors who had examined the complainant (Saiful),’ Mr Bakri said yesterday.

‘Police are still in the process of identifying several other individuals believed to be involved in the case, and they will be called up very soon to assist the investigation.’

Asked when police would record Mr Anwar’s statement, he said: ‘It is all up to the findings of the police investigation.’

ASSOCIATED PRESS, THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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