This current Sandiwara takes its roots back to at least events more than a year ago, well chronicled by Malaysia'smost famous Blogger-Storyteller -- who else but RAJA PETRA KAMARUDIN.
So my Post today -- as Act 1 presaged by my Post yesterday -- owes its authenticity to RPK, owner of the highest-visited website or weblog (from what I hear!:) in NegaraKu.
I suggest my ER should surf to malaysia-today.net for this ***entry last year. I have highlighted (thus BOLDED) the key players -- it's PROtagonists in Desi's scriptwriting vocab, and believe you me, they are awwe PRO in their areas of expertise! -- in the opera now in progress. (This phrase 'and believe you me' is oft mouthed by Aussies, and I'm trying to imitate as an Asian sayng it out loud -- still allowed -- but somewhere Desi feels non-Pro!:(
***03/06: Malaysia’s organised crime syndicate: all roads lead to Putrajaya
Category: General Posted by: Raja Petra
THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
In Europe, they say that all roads lead to Rome. Well, in Malaysia, they say all roads lead to Putrajaya. How true is this saying? Is this fact or fallacy? Malaysia Today decided to find out, at least in relation to Malaysia’s thriving and lucrative organised crime which includes prostitution (in particular girls from China), drugs (four types of ‘designer’ drugs) and illegal gambling (4D lotteries and slot machines).
On 14 May 2007, the new Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) Director-General, Ahmad Said Hamdan, succeeded his now retired and disgraced boss, Zulkipli Mat Noor, who was forced to exit under a cloud of dirt due to allegations of corruption and sexual misconduct. This is of course not unusual. Heads of government agencies being forced to retire under sexual and corruption scandals is very common and quite the norm in Malaysia. In fact, one would be very suspicious if a head of a Malaysian government agency retired with a squeaky-clean record and is remembered by all and sundry as a spotless gentleman.
The IGP, Musa, is hailed as Mister Clean, as is Ahmad Said, the ACA head, and both the ACA and Police come under Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. What more befitting that they both report to a boss also dubbed as Mister Clean -- although when previous Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad calls Abdullah ‘Mister Clean’ it is certainly meant as tongue-in-cheek.
The ‘Mister Clean’ label for Musa can certainly be justified considering that he launched an investigation into the corruption and sexual misconduct allegation against Zulkipli. Normally, it would be the ACA that investigates the police. In this instant it was the other way around; the police investigated the head honcho of the agency that is supposed to investigate corruption. Talk about the tail wagging the dog. And to strengthen this Mister Clean image even further, the police also investigated their own Deputy Minister. In Malaysia, Ministers are ‘God’. Do disciples take ‘God’ to task? Yes, they do in this particular case. That should put these Umno politicians in their proper place and once and for all prove who is really running this country.
We have a Mister Clean ACA chief, a Mister Clean Chief of Police, and a Mister Clean Prime Minister. However, in spite of all these Mister Cleans running around loose, there is certainly great concern about the current state of affairs. Why is the crime rate escalating? And we are not talking about stolen bicycles, snatched handbags, or cases of buttock pinching on crowded buses. We are talking about organised crime.
The organised crime syndicate -- which, as I said, includes prostitution (in particular girls from China), drugs (four types of ‘designer’ drugs) and illegal gambling (4D lotteries and slot machines) -- started expanding its operations soon after Musa took over as the IGP. Was this a mere coincidence or did they take advantage of the ‘upheaval’ in the police force to move fast before the police got organised under the new regime?
It seems about 120 key police personnel were shifted, transferred, etc., in a massive shake-up that some say is Musa’s attempt at cleaning up the police force and making it more efficient. Kudos to Musa! However, Musa’s critics will profusely beg to differ. They allege that Musa merely cleaned out remnants of the old regime and instead planted his own people in those strategic places. As in every story there are always two sides to it and it would be very difficult to get to the truth unless those within the police force come out into the open and sing like a canary.
Anyway, whether the shake-up was for better or for worse would have to remain a matter for speculation at this point of time. What is very clear, and is no speculation, is that the organised crime syndicate, which started its operations in Johor, has now moved up north and is now strengthening its base in Perak after conquering Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, and of course, the jewel in the crown, the Kelang Valley.
According to those in the ‘industry’, the Kingpin of the organised crime syndicate is a man called BK Tan. The trouble with most underworld bosses -- and this we have mentioned before in Malaysia Today -- is that they just love to boast. They just can’t resist telling all and sundry; the GROs and waiters in the nightclub included; about how well-connected they are. They also have super-large egos and like to be ‘honoured’. This is what The Straits Times reported on 14 November 2003 in an article about ten Malaysian states selling datukships:
Many businessmen are said to be willing to pay up to RM50,000 for a datukship and even up to RM150,000 or more for more prestigious titles, which they hope will accord them status in their business dealings. Concerns have been raised in recent years that some datuks could not speak in the National Language or English. The arrests of some datuks for criminal activities and allegations that some were involved in Chinese triads had also diminished the value attached to the award.
As they say, it’s all about fortune and fame. First one seeks money. Then one clamours a name. And even slime-balls and scumbags who become filthy rich (the filthy way) eventually want to be honoured and treated as ‘respectable’ members of society. And the way to do this would be to buy datukships. And what is RM150,000 to these people? It is not even one day’s income to those who run the prostitution, illegal gambling and drug syndicates.
BK Tan would relate to anyone who cares to listen about how well-connected he is. He will boast about how he has the IGP in his pocket and can just walk into the IGP’s house anytime he so wishes. He would assure his fascinated audience that he has the power to transfer police officers, even those of the level of OCPDs. If any OCPD does not play ball, BK Tan guarantees his listeners whose jaws by now have dropped, he will ensure that they get transferred within 24 hours. “I run the police force!” BK Tan would scream in case anyone still does not catch his drift.
Whether this is just idle boasting or The Gospel is of course anyone’s guess. Surely BK Tan’s astounded audience would never be able to phone the IGP to confirm whether what the prostitution, illegal gambling and drug baron said is true or not. But do they really need confirmation when it is apparent that BK Tan runs his nation-wide operations unhindered? It is not like he operates underground though it can be said that he runs an underground business. He openly advertises his links with the IGP short of wearing a T-shirt that says, ‘I own the IGP’. Certainly the IGP too would know of BK Tan’s loose talk and it begs answers as to why the IGP would allow his good name to be smeared in this fashion. Or is it no one dares tell the IGP that BK Tan is ‘selling’ his name? Then again, could it be that.....no.....surely it can’t be!
BK Tan’s number two is someone who goes by the name of Lim Een Hong. He is the enforcer who ensures that all the ‘laws’ are complied with. The Johor operation comes under Goh Cheng Poh who goes by the nickname of ‘Tengku’. The designer drugs are ‘marketed’ through a disco in Johor Bharu called the Platinum Disco and the prostitutes are mostly ‘imported’ girls from China. The illegal gambling network is not confined to just Johor Bharu but extends to Muar, Batu Pahat, Kluang, Pontian and Kota Tinggi as well. Every town in Johor has its unlicensed 4D lottery and slot machines.
Again, Tengku, just like BK Tan, loves to boast and he brags about how he arranged for the IGP to close down the operations of his competitors all over Johor so that he could enjoy a monopoly. Tengku also relates how one police officer by the name of Dato Rahim Jaafar refused to play ball and he arranged for the IGP to transfer him out of Johor. These underworld bosses must learn to keep their mouths shut. One must never kiss and tell even if it is true; and more so if it is not.
Some police officers would readily come forward to testify if asked to do so. The problem is no one is asking them to and one does not volunteer anything unless asked to. One very senior police officer even sent a letter to Abdullah Ahmad Badawi revealing in great detail the entire operation and who is behind what, both in the organised crime syndicate as well as in the police force. And it is most alarming that some very big names appear in this letter to the Prime Minister and one would be hard-pressed to believe it if one did not see the letter for oneself. It seems the ACA has investigated the allegations in this letter and has found it to be true. But of course nothing was done about it thus far.
Okay, assuming that the Prime Minister is not being kept abreast of what is happening in the country, surely his many Ministers such as the Home Affairs Minister or the Minister of Internal Security would know about all this and would be able take some form of action, or at least inform Abdullah about what is going on.
Johari Baharum, Abdullah’s Deputy Minister of Internal Security, has been absolved of the allegation that he took a bribe of RM5.5 million to free a notorious underworld boss who had initially been detained for running an illegal gambling, prostitution and drug ring. It seems the police wrongfully detained the underworld boss or did not follow proper procedures in the detention. Johari, therefore, had no choice but to sign his release since this would have ‘exploded’ if the case had been taken to court. But the ACA has not yet made any official announcement absolving him of the crime in spite of Johari’s challenge that it announce its findings and make it public. Why has the ACA held back announcing what would clear Johari of this crime? This is yet another mystery.
Is Johari ignorant of the details of the Chinese organised crime syndicate? Everyone is talking. Even many police officers themselves are talking. It is no longer a secret. Should not Johari be doing something about it? Is it so difficult to launch an investigation and get to the bottom of the whole matter? Surely it would not be that difficult to bring the criminals to book, never mind how high up the ladder the trail may lead.
It makes one wonder whether Johari has learnt his lesson in the Zulkipli episode. Johari has seen how the tail can sometimes wag the dog. The very powerful ACA head honcho was brought down by the people who investigated him when he instead should be investigating them. Johari too almost suffered the same fate and escaped by the skin of his nose. And he was almost brought down by a mere one-page article on an anonymous website that appears to have been set up with this sole purpose in mind; to implicate him in a corrupt act.
Has Johari developed a severe case of cold feet syndrome? One cannot blame him of course if one knows which side one’s bread is buttered. One brush with the police is sufficient. Once bitten, twice shy, as they say. But Johari’s lack of action in this case causes more damage than if he had done something. He is sandwiched between a rock and a hard place. If he moves, he dies; if he does nothing, fingers would point to him as the dalang behind the Chinese organised crime syndicate. It would make him appear even guiltier and the allegation that he was bribed to release the underworld bosses from detention without trial would be very hard to deflect. Telan mati emak, ludah mati bapak, would be how the Malays would describe this situation.
In fact, both Abdullah’s and Johari’s reputations are at stake here. Are they aware of the organised crime sweeping this country? Are they totally ignorant about it until now? Or are they actually behind it? If they are not behind it and did not know about it thus far, well, now they do. Today, Malaysia Today has revealed what is going on. So can we now see some action? It would be extremely sad if Islam Hadhari translates to mean prostitution, illegal gambling and drugs flourishing in Malaysia under the very noses of those who walk in the corridors of power.
BBC once ran a series called ‘Who Runs Your World?’ and, on 20 September 2005, Jonathan Kent wrote about how Malaysia’s notorious triad gangs operate in an article called ‘Meeting Malaysia's notorious triads’.
Most Malaysians have little or nothing to do with the triads. But many poorer people have nowhere else to turn when they need to borrow money. All too often, Michael Chong, head of public services for the political party the Malaysian Chinese Association, sees what happens when borrowers default on their payments. “We do have cases where they run away, you know, with the family... and of course we have some cases where they have been assaulted - assaulted in the sense they have to be hospitalised,” Mr Chong said.
When the economic downturn of 1998 hit Asia, many Malaysians turned to the triads for work. It allowed thousands to fill their rice bowls. That in itself is reason enough for some in power to turn a blind eye to what these gangs do - that and the knowledge that the triads are there to make a living, not to cause trouble.
They may be bad men, but they’re also businessmen. - End of article
And this is what The Straits Times reported on 23 January 2007:
When Malaysia’s Federal CID chief, Christopher Wan, led a raid two weeks ago on four gambling dens in the small coastal town of Sekinchan in northern Selangor, he made the unusual decision of not informing the local police. But local officers witnessed the successful raid on the shops anyway - the police station was just 100m away. The raiding officers seized 241 slot machines valued at RM723,000 and arrested 11 men.
Tan Sri Musa Hassan, the Inspector-General of Police who became the country's top cop last September and who appointed Datuk Wan, a career policemen known for his professionalism, said after the raid that he was not amused by the Sekinchan police station's lack of action. “We will take action if they are involved in or closed an eye to illegal activities,” he said, referring to police officers there.
Since then, Datuk Wan has been criss-crossing the country leading and coordinating raids on illegal gaming outlets in small towns, which are usually not on the national radar screen. Besides declaring war on illegal gambling, which is controlled by Malaysian triads, the raids appear to be part of a get-tough message aimed at the police force and other civil servants who may have cosy ties with criminal elements.
When Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi's government took office in late 2003, it made the fight against corruption a top priority. But more than three years on, public perception of a corrupt civil service, particularly within the police force, remains widespread.
The new police chief and his head of CID appear now to be shaking things up in the police. Following Datuk Wan’s raid, the Sekinchan police chief has been transferred to the state police headquarters, pending a full disciplinary investigation. An inquiry is also being conducted into the activities of the district police chief.
Another fallout from the raid: the district council president has been transferred after it was discovered that the gambling dens had valid business licences.
“What is happening definitely helps rebuild faith in the police force and improve their public image,” a ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) MP, Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamad, told The Straits Times. He said any attempt to clean up the police force and the civil service would help boost the Prime Minister's image as well. “But fighting corruption takes a long time. The main thing now is to slowly change the culture of the police force,” he said.
Last Friday, Datuk Wan took his team to Sungei Petani in Kedah, where they seized more than 178 video gaming machines for gambling from seven ‘family entertainment centres’. One of the seven outlets was located just 500m from a police station. “We want to close down all illegal dens by the end of March,” he said recently, in a sign of his resolve. “Illegal gambling is breaking up families.” - End of article
Yes, that is right, illegal gambling; in particular slot machines; are rampant all over Malaysia and they operate right under the very noses of the police in premises that are within walking distance of police stations -- and it seems with the collusion of the police. This is not what Malaysia Today says. This is what the police themselves say as reported by The Straits Times. So why can’t the police clean it up then? It is not that they don’t know; they do.
There are an estimated 500 licensed slot machine outlets spread out all over Malaysia with at least 15 slot machines per outlet. 80% of the market is controlled by two groups. The first group comprises of Danny Tan, his brother Vincent Tan, and Vincent’s son, Robin, while the second is headed by someone called Dato Seri Wazlian. And they have been licensed by the Ministry of Finance headed by Abdullah himself. Nevertheless, the licensed and unlicensed outlets are ‘mixed’ to ensure that the powers-that-be is not able to differentiate between the legal and illegal outlets. It is said there are three times as many illegal outlets as there are licensed ones so this would bring the number of slot machines in operation to about 30,000. That is indeed a lot of slot machines for a small country like Malaysia.
The role of Desi here is maily to paint this Flashback as a backdrop for you to weave the threads that bind the various key protagonists and bits/bytes players, but I'll bet you, you have not seen the last of the explosives -- C4 on Altantuya notwithstanding! -- nyet!
Act 2: (OB)Scene 2
From the Star
Thursday November 1, 2007
Johari: It’s my job to banish them
KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Johari Baharum, who instructed the Commercial Crimes Investigation Department to investigate Goh Cheng Poh @ Tunku for loan shark activities, does not want to be dragged into the Anti-Corruption Agency’s probe into the department.
“My job as Internal Security Deputy Minister is to sign the order to banish the subject – in this case Goh Cheng Poh @ Tunku – who is alleged to be involved in loan shark or Ah Long activities.
“How the CCID officers obtained their information or intelligence is up to them. I trust them. As long as I’m satisfied with the reasons given, I will execute the order,” he said when contacted yesterday.
Johari, who is joint chairman of the Cabinet Committee on Ah Longs, said it was up to the ACA to investigate if the CCID officers had falsified witnesses’ statements pertaining to Goh who had been banished before.
He maintained that he had directed the CCID to investigate Goh as he had information from his sources as well as from the public of Goh’s alleged involvement in loan shark activities.
In Parliament, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow who is also Deputy Internal Security Minister, reiterated that there was no conflict within the police force, in response to Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang’s demand for details on the investigation into the CCID.
Fu refused to elaborate on the investigation, except to say that the ACA had completed its findings and a report had been submitted to the Attorney-General’s chambers.
Meanwhile, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz said CCID director Datuk Ramli Yusuff should have used the court to defend himself instead of speaking to the media about the ACA investigation on him.
He added that Ramli’s statement to the media was discussed at the Cabinet meeting yesterday.
TheSun has a more arresting headline, page 6 todie:
No turf war in police
force, says Fu
DESIDERATA: I started my VO with "Mr Fu, do you wear a Manchu mask?...", and I was rudely interrupted.
My music director says he does not need more of my Voice-over. This refrain suffices, he insists:
"The answer,my friend, is blowin'in the wind
The answer is blowin' in the wind."