By Rama Ramanathan
KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Today, the Assisting Officers put on the stand Ian McIntyre, Penang bureau chief of The Vibes news portal.
The decision to call Ian could be considered controversial, because he’s a professional journalist. Should he reveal what a source told him?
To Ian’s credit, he showed up. And he answered plainly. In superb Malay.
I suppose the Assisting Officers hoped Ian could answer the question of precisely where Ah Boy found the personal effects of Annapuranee (“Anna”) Jenkins and a fragment of bone from her body.
Sadly, Ian, after reviewing a set of photographs provided to the court by the Police Investigation Officer, could not precisely identify the location.
What does Ian have to do with the case of this Indian-Malaysian-Australian, 65-year-old grandmother gone missing in Penang?
In December 2017, as soon as the story of Anna’s disappearance broke, Ian began reporting it.
He reported it more than others. Two things motivated him.
First, he felt the police had the capability to find her, wanted to do so, and could better do so if they received information from the public.
Second, he wanted to respond to the diligence with which Anna’s son was pursuing the case: Greg Jenkins constantly shared new leads with the media, though the police seemed to have classified it as a cold case.
Briefly, Ian’s involvement with the finding of Anna’s personal effects began when he was contacted by Greg in June 2020.
Greg wanted to travel from Australia to Penang to meet Ah Boy to assess his claims (reported yesterday). He couldn’t, due to COVID-19 travel restrictions.
So, he asked Ian to assess Ah Boy. Ian agreed. He met Ah Boy at a food stall near the construction site in which Ah Boy said he’d found Anna’s personal effects. Ah Boy didn’t show Ian the objects physically. He just showed photos on his phone. And took Ian to the claimed location.
Ah Boy refused Ian’s request to be shown the personal effects and where precisely he had put them. He said this was to ensure he would get the reward money which had been offered by Anna’s family.
Then Ian told the coroner something which closed a gap in Ah Boy’s account yesterday. Why didn’t Ah Boy make a police report?
Ian said he told Ah Boy it’s normal in such cases for a finder to make a police report. Ah Boy said he didn’t want to make a report, because police had come to the site earlier and “taken something away,” possibly bones.
Ian then added something else very significant.
Ian said he attempted several times to share the information he’d obtained with the then OCPD (Officer in Charge of Police District). After his fourth attempt, Tuan Sofian responded by holding a press conference at the construction site to announce the new information.
Family Counsel Raveentharan Subramaniam then asked Ian about the price of land in the development where Anna’s remains had been found. He suggested that a plot of land there could sell for about RM7 million. Ian, with the caveat that he’s not a valuer, agreed with Raveen.
Thus emerges a theory Anna’s family think should have been investigated by the police: the developer, upon discovering human remains on the site, “worked with the police” to have the remains removed quietly so as not to jeopardize the value of the land.
I hope the Assisting Officers work diligently to produce the Investigating Officer/s and the then OCPD before the coroner. I hope the Inspector General of Police, the Home Minister and the Foreign Minister will recognize and respond to the gravity of this potential angle in the case.
Greg Jenkins is due to testify at 9:00 am tomorrow.
The case has taken an unusual turn. Today, Family Counsel handed over to the court a chronology of events compiled by Greg Jenkins and asked that the Assisting Officers take on the task of questioning Greg and thereby introduce the evidence into the record.
*Rama Ramanathan is spokesperson for Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (CAGED) and an independent writer.*