London slavery victim has no regrets disowning family

London slavery victim has no regrets disowning family

PETALING JAYA - Siti Aishah Abdul Wahab, the Malaysian-born woman believed to have been confined by a cult-like Maoist sect in London, has no regrets over her decision to cut herself off from her family for 40 years.

Her sister, former teacher Kamar Mahtum, 73, who had an emotional reunion with her 69-year-old sibling in London, said she had felt angry, sad and disappointed with Siti Aishah and had repeatedly asked her "how could you", on her decision to disappear without trace in 1970s.

"Now I know she did it and without much regret. At least, I think so," she told British daily, The Telegraph, in an exclusive interview after meeting Siti Aishah.

She said Siti Aishah seemed uncomfortable with her questions and seemed evasive when asked about her life.

Kamar Mahtum said Siti Aishah complained she was scolding her but added that she felt compelled to say all those things because nobody else would say them to her sister.

"I have no other chance at all, I think, until the end of my life to come and see her again. Unless she comes home," she said.

When asked about her life in London, Siti Aishah had replied that she had religious friends and did not want for anything.

Kamar Mahtum said that made her feel as though her sister was trying to tell her she could survive without her family as she had been doing for the last 40 years.

She said after meeting Siti Aishah she felt that her sister was still caught up in left-wing politics and did not feel her family was important to her.

Siti Aishah is one of three women believed to be have been held for over 30 years by sect leader Aravindan Balakrishnan and his partner Chanda Pattni, a Tanzanian national of Indian descent.

She had won a Commonwealth scholarship to London in the late 1960s but cut off contact with her family after coming under Aravindan's (better known as Comrade Bala) influence.

Meanwhile, Kassim Ahmad, the former national chairman of the Parti Sosialis Rakyat Malaysia, said he and Aravindan belonged to a group called Young Socialists in the 1960s in London.

"I think he is a Singaporean. There were some students, maybe 30 to 50 of them who also joined our organisation.

"We met every Sunday for discussion of socialist theories," he said yesterday.

Kassim, 80, who was a lecturer at the University of London's School of Oriental & African Studies from 1962 to 1966, was not sure what Aravindan was studying at that time.

"I only remember him as one of the more interested members. I don't remember us as extremists. We were socialists," he said.


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