NST EXPOSED IT 2 YEARS AGO
Extensive reports on gambling dens and those protecting syndicates running them
KUALA LUMPUR firstname.lastname@example.org
THE mushrooming of illegal gambling dens in several states, including Melaka, was highlighted by this newspaper two years ago when its special probes team blew the lid on the flourishing illicit business.
The New Straits Times’ extensive probe into the issue followed a directive by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who had instructed all state police chiefs to rid their respective areas of command of illegal gambling dens.
The order came about a year after Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar issued a similar order that came with a “4-hour transfer out” warning to the top cop of each state, if they failed to do so.
The investigation and undercover work this newspaper carried out revealed that the number of such vice dens was in fact on the rise.
Many had tweaked their modus operandi, operating one floor up from the usual ground floor. Others shifted their operations to guarded residential areas.
This was to allow them enough time to conceal their crime after being tipped off on impending raids.
Cheng, an area in Melaka Tengah, was among areas that the team focused on.
This was triggered by a tip-off from within the force which alerted the team that “reports” on the illegal activity that was passed on the team that was supposed to address vice activities in the state were merely kept under lock and key.
The NST then published evidence on no less than six dens that were operating gambling machines that would parallel any legal ones.
They were all found within a one square kilometre radius.
The team had also teamed up with undercover uniformed personnel who had also been gathering intelligence on the area’s robust illicit gambling sector.
One of them shared his experience of being approached by a man, allegedly a “negotiator”, who offered him a huge payback if he agreed to provide the gambling den operators information on police raids.
Another spoke of how a gambling syndicate would make payments to top senior police officers all the way down to the rank-and-file personnel to ensure their operation remained untouched.
Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Haron had then, in response to NST’s exposé, instructed all relevant agencies to carry out internal investigations on the matter.
The order was issued to local authorities and police in the state, Tenaga Nasional Bhd, Syarikat Air Melaka Bhd and Chief Minister’s Office.
He promised to make the investigation result public. He also directed enforcement entities to cut electricity and water supply as well as seize any backup power of premises used as vice dens.
The then federal anti-vice, gaming and secret societies division (D7) principal assistant director Senior Assistant Commissioner Roslee Chik also said some of his men had turned rogue with some working hand in glove with gambling syndicates leaking information on impending raids.
“Half the time, when instruction come from the top (for raids), the plan is leaked before they are carried out.
“It gets to me when this happens. I tell my men that if their allegiance is to syndicates, quit the force and work with them,” he was reported as saying.
Datuk Chuah Ghee Lye, who was heading the state police force at that time and is now Penang police chief, said he was ready to be moved out of the state if his bosses felt he had not done enough to eradicate the problem in his area.
He had gone on to say that he was in the midst of gathering information based on this newspaper’s report and that he would call the NST Special Probes Team, which went undercover to produce the exposé, to serve as witnesses, if necessary.
The exhaustive piece came with many photographs taken from the gambling dens in the district, which were clearly named, with exact locations mentioned.
The next day, the NST spoke to state police chiefs nationwide. Some did not hesitate to declare that the area under their jurisdiction was clear of gambling dens.
Many more admitted to be grappling still with the problem and set a timeframe to meet the deputy prime minister’s directive.
The ‘New Straits Times’ reports on dirty cops and the gambling menace in 2015.