JOHOR BARU, Oct 8 — A mountain of debt is believed to be what drove R. Pubalan to allegedly to take his children's lives before he hanged himself in his house in Rini Residences, Mutiara Rini, near here.
The 52-year-old businessman was found dead in his bedroom in his double-storey link home at 2.30pm.
The body of his wife P. Jeya, 46, was on a bed in the living room on the ground floor and two children, Sharveen, 14, and Krishna, nine, were found in separate rooms.
Both his dead children had signs of strangulation. Police are still investigating the cause of the wife’s death.
The tragic event rocked the usually quiet upper middle-class residential neighbourhood.
It was learnt that Pubalan, who hailed from Kedah, had been in deep financial difficulties for the past two years after his wine and liquor distribution business did badly.
He had apparently accumulated about RM1 million in debts.
In addition, his wife needed medical attention for her kidney and other medical ailments that cost the family between RM5,000 to RM6,000 per month.
The businessman, who used to operate a shop in Skudai here, was initially doing well after he moved to the state about 10 years ago.
However, over the past two years, Pubalan went through a streak of bad luck with his business.
The family moved into the gated residential area in December last year after years of renting a home in Skudai.
It is understood that the house, currently valued at about RM700,000, was bought by Pubalan.
C. Kumaran, 46, said he was shocked when told of the incident involving his immediate neighbour.
“At first, I thought that only Pubalan’s wife passed away as she had been bed-ridden with kidney disease for over two months.
“I couldn't believe that the entire family of four was dead,” he said, adding that he had had good relations with Pubalan.
Kumaran said Pubalan was a pleasant neighbour and mostly kept to himself, but those that knew him said he looked disturbed over the past two months.
Security guard M. Yasurajoo said he was shocked to learn of the family’s death as he was Pubalan's friend and this was the first time that such a tragedy occurred in the 10 years that he had worked as a security guard.
“I knew Pubalan for more than two months and he usually came over to the guard post.
“We hit it off well. We would talk about his life over tea or soft drinks,” the 30-year-old told Malay Mail.
Yasurajoo said Pubalan had confided in him that he was in financial difficulties and owed about RM1 million.
“I listened to his problems, but was unable to help him,” he said, adding that Pubalan was a responsible family man who loved his children and wife.
Yasurajoo said three days before the incident, Ah Longs went to Pubalan’s house and seized a Honda City and a lorry. The family had a smaller car which was not taken.
“I thought nothing of it as those close to him (Pubalan) knew that he was in financial distress,” he said.
Pubalan’s elder brother Selledorai, 56, said he rushed to Johor Baru with other relatives from Sungai Petani in Kedah after their sister in Taiping informed them of the tragedy.
“My brother (Pubalan) was the youngest in our family of seven siblings and we constantly kept in touch.
“It's a sad moment for us as the rest of our siblings planned to travel to Johor Baru to celebrate Deepavali with him,” he said when met at Hospital Sultanah Aminah mortuary.
Selledorai said his brother had been looking forward to the family reunion despite being in low spirits due to his financial difficulties and wife’s health issues.
“We tried our best to help him. Sometimes, we also assisted him with some money,” said the teacher, adding that he would leave it to the police to look into the motive that led to the tragedy.
Yesterday, the remains of Pubalan, his wife Jeya and their two children were released from the hospital to the next-of-kin.
Final pooja prayers (last rites) for the deceased were held outside their house in Mutiara Rini. The remains will be cremated in Bukit Jana in Kamunting, Taiping, today.
Meanwhile, Iskandar Puteri police chief Assistant Commissioner Noor Hashim Mohamad said police have yet to ascertain the motive.
Police are expected to give a media conference on the findings based on the post-mortem results this afternoon.