Heryati Abdul Rahim, the second wife of former deputy prime minister Tun Ghafar Baba, who admitted to committing khalwat with three Bosnian students in the Syariah High Court here recently, is determined to clear her name.
“I pleaded guilty because I did not want the case to prolong, which may embarrass the family and the good name of my husband, but I maintain my innocence.
“I have maintained my silence since the incident but I want to speak out now to clear any misconception as a result of rumours and speculation,” she said.
Heryati, in her 40s, a student at the International Islamic University, pleaded guilty to committing khalwat (close proximity) with three Bosnian IIU students at the Heritage Condominium, Jalan Pahang, Setapak, at midnight on Sept 28.
Heryati and Admir Mehinovic, 23, Izudin Mulalic, 27, and Mirza Trako, 25, were let off with a stern warning by judge Abu Bakar Ahmad.
The judge, however, barred the media from reporting the details of the charges and the proceedings following an application by Heryati’s lawyer Daud Daros.
In an exclusive interview at her residence in Taman Duta, Heryati said the charge had certainly affected her but stressed that it was merely “technical” in nature.
She said three Bosnian students had helped her run her Internet cafe near the IIU campus in Gombak and on the night of the alleged incident, the four were having a discussion on the cafe.
“At 10.30pm, following a function, I proceeded to the apartment, belonging to me, to discuss the running of the cafe with my fellow students.
“Even before I proceeded there, I asked whether there was more than one person at the place. When I was told that there were others present, only then did I meet them,” she said.
Heryati said they were talking in the apartment hall when officers from the Federal Territory Religious Affairs Department raided the place.
Saying she was not an Islamic expert, Heryati said she always assumed that khalwat involved two persons in an intimate position, adding that her mistake was not to keep the doors of her apartment open.
“Like any ordinary Malaysian, we always close our doors for safety reasons after our guests enter our homes; but this will be a lesson for me and others as well.
“I guess that from now I will keep my doors, whether at the house or office, wide open to avoid any suspicion or accusation,” she added.
She refuted rumours that she was watching a pornographic movie with the Bosnians at the time of the incident, describing such talk as preposterous.
“In fact, at the time of the raid, all four of us were not just discussing about the cafe but the television was turned on.
“I remembered a police movie being screened on Astro TV. Certainly, all four of us were fully clothed.
“I think those who have been making such talk merely want to tarnish the reputation of Tun. Please respect his contributions to the country,” she said.
Heryati said she had maintained the apartment for friends and family members as a guesthouse before renting it out to the students, adding that others also had the key to the place.
Heryati, who has been married to Ghafar for over eight years and has a six-year-old daughter with him, said she decided to study at IIU to have a better understanding of Islam.
“I could have picked other universities but I decided to study at IIU because I want to deepen my knowledge of Islam. I am learning Arabic and meeting others who are interested in Islam,” she said.
The first-year Human Science student said the university had offered her a “peace of mind,” adding that she was serious in wanting to pursue her studies following the completion of her business management studies in an Indonesian college previously.
“I have decided to say what needs to be said. I hope my side of the story can be heard. I appeal to everyone to let this case be closed so I can continue my family life and my studies peacefully. Let this be a lesson not just to me but other Muslims as well,” she added.
She said Ghafar had been supportive of her throughout the incident, adding that he had telephoned her from overseas to give moral support.
“It was Tun who engaged a lawyer to defend me. Everyone advised me to let the case end although my heart tells me that I should fight to clear my name.”
Heryati said she did not harbour any ill-feelings against anyone as her main concern was Ghafar, who is 77, and his health, particularly after the controversy.