NO HOLDS BARRED | Raja Petra Kamarudin - Monday, 04 May 2009
From the 12th to the 22nd September 2008, I was detained at the Police Remand Centre (PRC) where most ISA detainees spend their first 60 days of detention. Suddenly, on the morning of the 22nd, I was told that my interrogation, which was held from the 17th to the 21st, is going to end and that they have to finalise their report that same day.
That was the first surprise.
I was supposed to sign my statement the following day -- on the 23rd. Instead, I was packed off to Kamunting the morning of the 23rd without being allowed to sign the statement cum confession.
That was the second surprise.
What was it that the higher-ups were so scared about that they wanted to keep my confession cum statement from those who were supposed to review it and decide whether I can be released or should be sent to Kamunting for further detention? I really don’t know because they never told me.
Anyway, here is part of my interrogation by the Special Branch -- what they asked and what I replied.
The last time you were detained for 54 days, is that correct?
Yes, it was from 11 April to 6 June 2001. I think it was about 54 days.
You were not sent to Kamunting right?
That’s because you cooperated. So if this time you also cooperate then there is a good chance you will also not be sent to Kamunting. You might be allowed to go home like the last time.
(I just nod)
We find your Statutory Declaration very hard to believe.
Why do you say that?
Well, we don’t think what you said about Rosmah being at the murder scene is correct. How do you know? It is highly unlikely. Rosmah is very rich. She has plenty of money. Why would she want to take the risk of going there personally? She can pay someone to do the job. No need for her to go there herself.
Well, that’s what I was told, that she went there personally.
We don’t think so. It doesn’t make sense for her to go there herself.
Okay, if you say so, but I know what I was told.
Who told you?
Lt Kol Azmi Zainal Abidin. He is the number two in the Special Branch of the Military Intelligence.
Yes, we know who he is.
So, that means you can ask him yourself then since you know him.
But how do you know he was telling you the truth? He could be setting you up.
I admit I don't know Lt Kol Azmi that well. But he is always in Ku Li’s office. He is very close to Ku Li. And Anwar Ibrahim also knows him very well.
So you are not really that close to Lt Kol Azmi. That means you don’t know whether you can trust him. We feel he is setting you up as the fall guy.
Maybe if I had to just trust him then I wouldn't dare take that risk. I mean; I don’t know him well enough to trust him all the way. But the person who introduced us is a very old friend. I’ve known him for about 45 years, longer than I’ve known my wife. And I trust my friend. My friend gave me his personal assurance that the story is legit.
Who is that friend?
Nik Azmi Nik Daud. We call him Bull. He works for Ku Li. I also asked Din Merican to check with Anwar whether I can trust Lt Kol Azmi with my life. Those were the exact words I used.
What did Anwar say?
Anwar replied you should never trust anyone with your life. However, Lt Kol Azmi’s information is very reliable. I also asked John Pang, who also works for Ku Li, to check with Ku Li whether Lt Kol Azmi’s information is reliable. I told John what Lt Kol Azmi told us and asked him to inform Ku Li about it. John confirmed that Lt Kol Azmi told Ku Li the same thing and that the information is reliable.
So that is why you signed the Statutory Declaration?
No. Actually, initially, I wanted to just write an article, like usual. But Bull asked to meet first before I write anything. So we met early April at La Bordega in Bangsar. Bull suggested I should instead sign a Statutory Declaration, as that would be stronger. They can ignore my article but they can’t ignore a Statutory Declaration.
Then you signed it?
No. I still did not sign it yet. I was worried about the repercussions. We would be forcing the government to act and they might come down hard on me. As Bull said, they can ignore my article but they can’t ignore a Statutory Declaration. Bull called for a second meeting on the Sunday before I signed the Statutory Declaration. We met at the Selangor Club Dataran Merdeka for lunch.
I told Bull I was a bit worried about signing a Statutory Declaration because the government will surely arrest and charge me if I do. I felt an article would be safer. But Bull disagreed. He felt an article was not strong enough. Bull said if anything happens to me they would go to court to testify that what I had signed is the truth. Bull assured me they would not allow me to rot in jail. So, on the 18th June, I signed the Statutory Declaration.
Are you sure they will come forward to testify in your trial?
That’s what Bull told me and I trust him. As I said, I’ve known him for 45 years.
Okay, let’s see whether they do or not. But we think they will not. They will not come forward to testify at your trial.
Maybe. Maybe what you say is true. I don’t know. Let’s see. After all I have already been charged and my trial will soon start. Let’s see whether they keep their word and testify at my trial. But I am confident they will because they have given me their assurance.
We believe you have been set up as the fall guy. Maybe they want to get rid of you.
I don’t think so. Anyway, we will know soon enough once my trial starts. It is going to be a most interesting trial indeed once the truth surfaces. Don’t you think so?
Didn’t Najib’s people approach you to make a deal?
You mean to buy my silence? Yes, they did.
Datuk Jamaluddin Jarjis.
It was not long after I was charged for sedition, before I signed the Statutory Declaration. JJ phoned and said he wanted to meet. I knew he was working for Najib so I agreed. We met at the car park outside Kelab Taman Perdana. My wife drove me there and waited at a distance. She was worried that it may be a trap and she wanted to be cautious in case they were setting me up, or something like that.
JJ arrived about 6pm and asked me to get into his car. He was alone. I waved to my wife and signalled her to go home and she wrote down JJ’s car number plate in case I disappeared or whatever.
We drove to a roadside stall in Jalan Ipoh and sat there and talked. JJ told me that Najib had asked him to meet me to make a deal. I asked him whether Najib really knows we are meeting and whether he had endorsed or sanctioned the meeting and JJ replied that our meeting was on Najib’s instructions.
We spent about an hour talking. The bottom line is he wanted me to stop writing about Najib and Altantuya. He also asked me whether I could delay my sedition trial until Najib becomes the Prime Minister. Once Najib is installed as Prime Minister they will drop the charges against me. I will also receive a monthly allowance of RM30,000 for my cooperation. He didn’t say for how long though.
I asked him how to delay the trial and he replied I can always get a medical certificate to confirm I am not fit enough to attend trial. I told him if I delayed the trial then the legal costs would increase and he offered to pay all the legal fees. He asked me to get my lawyers to issue an invoice and he would pay the cost, whatever it may be.
I told my lawyers about this incident so that at least some other people know about it.
So, what happened to the deal?
Soon after that I signed my Statutory Declaration. That was my way of saying no deal. After that they arrested me and charged me for criminal defamation. I suppose that was their way of replying to my reply.
Wouldn’t it have been better for you to accept the deal? After all, Najib is soon going to be the Prime Minister.
Maybe. But it’s too late now isn’t it? I have already burned my bridges behind me. The above is a small portion of my questions and answers session with the Special Branch over the five days of interrogation. This, plus a lot more, was compiled into a report, which I was supposed to sign on the morning of 23 September 2008 -- but which never materialised for some strange reason. I am probably the first ISA detainee in almost 50 years who made a statement (confession) but was never asked to sign it.