- Published on Monday, 07 January 2013 15:23
EVERYONE enjoys a good mystery once in a while, some perhaps more than others. All the great mystery writers at some point owe some part of their success to real-life mysteries.
Malaysia, on that score, is no stranger to real-life mysteries either. From the ill-fated Tanjung Kupang air crash; the gruesome Nurin Jazlin murder as well as the killing of beauty queen Jean Perrera Sinappa, Malaysian history is filled with crimes which remain unsolved to this very day.
As such, Malaysian Digest has compiled some of the most intriguing real-life local mysteries which have baffled the authorities and the public at large.
10. Death Of A Beauty Queen
Jean Perrera Sinappa was a former beauty queen, whose husband had just died in a traffic accident. But four months later on April 6, 1979, she was found dead in her car along the Federal Highway, Kuala Lumpur. Her then-lover, who was also her brother-in-law, Karthigesu was found unconscious outside the car, by the roadside. When Karthigesu regained consciousness at the hospital, he claimed he was knocked on the head from behind.
An ensuing trial found Karthigesu guilty of killing Jean and he was sentenced to the gallows. The prosecution presented a case where Karthigesu flew into a jealous rage upon discovering that Jean was having an affair with a Sri Lankan doctor, Dr Narada Warnasurya. However, in an odd turn of events, Karthigesu was freed two years after the trial ended following an appeal. The killer walks and the mystery remains unsolved.
9. Where Did My Baby Go?
In recent years, news of missing children figured prominently on the front pages of local newspapers. However, there are those which stay with us long after the case goes cold, such as the case of Sharlinie Mohd Nashar.
On January 9, 2008, five-year-old Sharlinie was at a playground close to her home in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya with her sister. Soon after, she went missing.
The public was sent on high alert when reports emerged that a ‘lelaki kucing’ (cat man), so dubbed because he had asked kids to help him look for missing cats, could be behind her abduction.
Her disappearance sent the media into a frenzy, as it came barely a year after another missing child case, that of Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. No effort was spared in the dissemination on information regarding Sharlinie’s disappearance, with the little girl’s poster splashed at every toll booth and petrol kiosk nationwide.
Sharlinie’s family also put their lives on hold to search for their girl, with the father even traveling to neighbouring countries to chase down leads, all to no avail.
In exactly two days, it will be exactly five years since Sharlinie was taken from her family.
Police’s lead on the case eventually grew cold, and her whereabouts remain unknown to this day.
8. The Girl’s Death Which Broke A Million Hearts
August 20, 2007, seemed like any other day for the family of eight-year-old Nurin Jazlin Jazimin. The girl had gone to a market near her home to buy a new hairclip, and was never seen alive again. Witnesses reported seeing her being dragged into a white van in Wangsa Maju.
Her disappearance triggered massive media coverage, with her name and face etched into the minds of every Malaysian. The heartfelt pleas by the family for her safe return also touched the hearts of many, and Malaysians across all walks of life prayed for her safe return.
Their prayers went unanswered. A month later, a child’s lifeless, naked form was found stuffed in a gym bag in Petaling Jaya, with CCTV camera recording providing little clue as to who may have dumped the bag there.
Her parents were unable to identify her remains due to the extreme physical changes in her body, but DNA tests confirmed their worst fears: the remains were indeed of their daughter.
An Indonesian woman was subsequently detained over the case, but the murder remains unsolved. The killer, perhaps, still walks among us.
7. When Pleasure Turns Into Murder
Norita Samsuddin, 22, was a small town girl from up north, trying to make it in the big city. She had the good looks of a fashion model and was believed to have received several modelling offers all of which she turned down in lieu of building a career as a marketing executive at Transpro Sdn Bhd, the company she was attached to at the time of her untimely demise.
On Dec 5, 2003, Norita was found dead in a room at a posh apartment complex in Sri Hartamas, Kuala Lumpur. Her naked body was found with her hands tied with a bra and several wires. There were no signs of injury on her body except strangulation marks on her neck and piece of cloth stuffed in her mouth. Engineer Hanif Basri was later arrested and charged for her murder. It was believed that Hanif had visited Norita that night and the prosecution tried to prove that he was the last person to see her alive.
However during the trial it was brought to light that someone else had visited Norita after Hanif left. The case against Hanif however was a weak one. Hanif was acquitted after a trial that came complete with conspiracy theories and lurid details of Norita's social life.
The circumstances surrounding her death was as mysterious as the circumstances surrounding the investigations after her death. It was believed that the crime scene was tampered with although nothing was ever proven.
Whatever the truth is, it probably lies ‘buried’ with Norita.
6. Did The Butler Do It?
Sabah Assistant Minister of Rural and Entrepreneurial Development Datuk Norjan Khan Bahadar was found dead in a hotel room at Bandaran Berjaya, Kota Kinabalu, on 11 February 2004. Norjan was found lying fully clad on the floor by her bed at the hotel with several small stab wounds on her neck and face.
Police initially cited jealousy as a possible motive but later ruled it out, citing robbery instead although it is believed that nothing was missing in her room.
Investigations later led to the arrest of a waiter, Azman Bakar who the police believed had killed Norjan because he was jealous of seeing her with another man.
During the trial, a witness was brought forward, a Pakistani businessman, Amir Khan. Lurid details emerged during the trial, suggesting that Datuk Norjan had intercourse with Amir Khan although he denied it.
Azman Bakar was later released when the prosecution failed to prove that Azman had in fact known Norjan. No further arrests were made. Again, another mystery remains unsolved.
5. The Double Six Tragedy
Many of us living in KL would have driven in Taman Tun Dr Ismail and noticed Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens. Some of us have no idea who he was. Some of us can say that he was the former chief minister of Sabah. But how many of us know that his death is still shrouded in mystery and the case remains unsolved until today, and the original report of the incident has been filed under Classified?
It was infamously known as the Double Six Tragedy. On June 6th, 1976, Tun Fuad Stephens, alongside several other government officials, as well as Tun Fuad's eldest son, Johari boarded a GAF Nomad aircraft, operated by Sabah Air at Labuan Airport. The plane was headed for Kota Kinabalu.
However, upon approaching KK International Airport, the plane stalled and crashed, killing everyone onboard.
Foul play was suspected although it was later claimed that the aircraft had several design flaws. It was also believed that overloading could have been a contributing factor but the real reason remains a mystery.
Tun Fuad's death came 44 days after his second term as Sabah's Chief Minister. The political circumstances surrounding his death is perhaps ironic as it had to do with oil and gas.
Reports claim that Tun Fuad upon ousting Tun Mustapha in the 1976 state elections, refused to sign away 95 per cent of the oil and gas revenue to the federal coffers and held out in Labuan for a higher percentage of at least 20 per cent. Tun Fuad's tragic death settled the oil royalty issue in favor of the federal government and Petronas, when Harris Salleh, his successor, signed away the oil revenues, witnessed by then Paramount Chief of the Dusuns, Joseph Pairin Kitingan.
Whether it was truly a technical fault that wiped out all passengers on board the Nomad or whether it was premeditated, the answer may never surface.
4. A Life Of Misery Ended
Xu Jian Huang, a 14-year-old Chinese national was sent to live in Malaysia with his father's cousin. However, on Sept 27, 2005, he was found drowned in a swimming pool with 23 torture marks on his body. Investigations led to the arrest and trial of three men who were charged with Xu’s murder; his uncle, businessman Koh Kim Teck, and his two bodyguards Resty Agpalo and Mohd Najib Zulkifli.
The 36- day trial saw the businessman having his 'Datuk Seri' title revoked. However, due to 'unresolved and unanswered doubts', all three men were cleared of killing the boy.
The trial came complete with lurid details. However, missing witnesses contributed to the acquittal of the three men. According to a 2010 news report, the prosecution appealed against the acquittal, and Koh, a well-known corporate personality, disappeared soon after that.
Koh was absent throughout the appeal. In 2010, his acquittal was upheld by the Appellate Court. Koh's whereabouts remain unknown. Did he torture his nephew? Were the bodyguards involved? Why were there witnesses missing? Jian Huang carries the knowledge of those who killed him to his grave.
3. Black Magic Woman
The murder was solved. The murderer was sentenced to death. Case closed. However, the sheer mystery surrounding what happened and the oddity of the murderer earns this case a spot on this unsolved list. On July 22, 1993, police discovered the dismembered body of Mazlan Idris, state assemblyman of Batu Talam, Pahang.
Former singer turned 'bomoh' Mona Fandey was arrested alongside her husband and assistant. All three were found guilty and sentenced to the gallows. The death sentence was upheld despite several appeals. No one who lived through the 1990s could forget the gruesome details that emerged from the Mona Fandey-Mazlan Idris trial.
His body was chopped into several parts following a supernatural ritual believed to bring more money for him, and he was buried in a storeroom near her house in Pahang.
What constitutes this as an unsolved is how remorseless the three were even during their execution. Throughout the trial, it was reported that Mona uttered the words 'Aku takkan mati' and remained calm with a smile on her lips.
2. The Assassination Of An IGP
Tan Sri Abdul Rahman Hashim, a Kedahan, was appointed as the country’s 3rd Inspector-General of Police (Ketua Polis Negara).
On one fateful day on June 7, 1974, Abdul Rahman was in his car on his way to a meeting in Bukit Aman. His car, driven by Sergeant Omar Yunus, was coasting along Jalan Tun Perak when it came under a hail of gunfire.
Two unknown assailants had rained 11 shots at the car, seven of which hit the IGP.
At the time, Malaysia was fighting the uprising of subversive forces that came in the form of communist members. It was believed that the order for the hit came from the leader of Parti Komunis Malaya, Chin Peng.
This, however was never proven in court. In 1975, two men, Lim Woon Chong and Ng Foo Nam were found guilty of assassinating Perak police chief Tan Sri Khoo Chong Khong at Jalan Ashby in Ipoh.
It was later theorized that both could have been the same unknown assailants who had gunned down Abdul Rahman although it was not proven.
Lim and Ng were sentenced to death in 1978 under the Internal Security Act (ISA). Until today, it is still unknown if the two men were the same hired guns who had carried out the hit on the IGP.
1. An Air Crash That Rocked The Nation
On the evening of December 4, 1977, Malaysia Airlines’ flight 653 left Penang for Kuala Lumpur's Subang Airport.
However as it began its descend for Subang's Runway 33, captain GK Ganjoor reported an 'unidentified hijacker' on board.
Several minutes later, the captain radioed in that the flight was now headed for Singapore. Cockpit voice recordings picked up screaming, cursing as well as what could have been the cockpit door being broken in.
At 8.15 pm, all communication with the flight was lost. At 8.36 pm, the flight crashed at Tanjong Kupang in Johor. No survivors were found.
What was even more tragic was that none of the bodies could be identified as they were blown to bits. The victims' remains were interred in a mass burial.
Until today, no evidence was found to determine what caused the crash and who the unidentified hijacker was.
Residents of nearby Tanjung Kupang reported hearing explosions, however there were no weapons or bullets found in the wreckage. Passengers on board included the Malaysian Agricultural Minister, Dato' Ali Haji Ahmad, Public Works Department Head, Dato' Mahfuz Khalid, and Cuban Ambassador to Japan, Mario García.
Some speculated that the Japanese Red Army was responsible but no evidence was found to support the theory.
It remains a tragic memory in the history of commercial aviation in Malaysia, and the devastating demise of all its passengers warrants this tragedy a top spot in Malaysian Digests' Top Ten Unsolved Mysteries In Malaysia.