NST EX­POSED IT 2 YEARS AGO

Ex­ten­sive re­ports on gam­bling dens and those pro­tect­ing syn­di­cates run­ning them

New Straits Times - - News -

AL­IZA SHAH

KUALA LUMPUR news@nst.com.my

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.

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