by Elizabeth Zachariah
The Malaysian Insider
September 11, 2013
Wanted: A detective who can solve this mystery.
The whodunit: The Home Ministry says it wants to know who in the ministry had released to the media the names of 30 gang leaders – a name list which includes an MIC politician who has since threatened to sue the government.
Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar told The Malaysian Insider that ministry officials were perplexed about who released the names.
“We don’t know who did it but we want to know as well,” he said, adding that he did not know if the list was real or not.
The players: Bernama, the state-owned, pro-government news agency which took a rare stab at investigative journalism and reported the names on Friday, citing the Home Ministry as its source.
Another player, the police. They report to the Home Ministry but say they did not give these names to the ministry… to which they report, by the way.
“I don’t know who is the source at the Home Ministry but the input did not come from the police. We have our own list and some gangs listed by the ministry were already under our watch,” Federal Police secret societies, gaming and anti-vice (D7) principal assistant director Datuk Abdul Jalil Hassan told The Malaysian Insider in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.
He added that police will contact The Star daily and Bernama to find out the source for the name list they published.
The backstory: the names of more than 30 leaders of Gangs 04, 08 and 36 and their “areas” were first reported by Bernama on Friday and picked up by The Star the next day.
This expose came as Malaysian were already reeling from reports of deadly shootings that came in daily within one week and still continue at a simmering pace. Public anxiety about crime has hit an all-time high but politicians and police continue to blame gang leaders released from detention without trial for the frequent shootings.
Quoting Home Ministry sources, the news reports that last week offered the names of 30 gang leaders, also said the suspects were active on their own turf.
Among those whose identities were made public as allegedly top gangsters were Tiram Sasi (Johor), Sungai Way Sugu (KL), Prai Bala (Penang), Langkap Sasi (Perak) from Gang 04; Indren (Penang), Dark (KL), Siva Guru (KL) from Gang 08; Cendol Kanna (KL), Devan (leader of the gang in KL and who is also a millionaire drug trafficker) and Kajang Kalai (Kajang) from Gang 36.
That last name refers to an MIC Youth Exco member, Kalai Arasu Muniandy. He has denied any such links and threatened legal action against the Home Ministry for tarnishing his reputation.
Meanwhile, Wan Junaidi has told The Malaysian Insider that he discussed the mystery of who released this list with Home Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and the Inspector-General of Police as soon as the story broke.
“All of us, including the ministry’s secretary-general, are in the dark about this. These days, anything can happen,” he lamented.
It is a serious matter releasing a bunch of names like that, lawyers told The Malaysian Insider.
They said the move to publish the names of suspected gangsters was unprecedented and should have been well thought out. As the Home Ministry was named as the source, Putrajaya is opening itself to lawsuits, lawyers warned.
“I wonder what defence the government will employ should there be civil suits for defamation filed,” said lawyer Amir Hamzah Arshad.
He said it was the taxpayers who would pay for damages if the courts find the government liable.
Things certainly could come to a boil if someone sues, but for now there is only the threat of a suit.
So the question of who released the names remains just that, a question.
The timeline to solve this mystery: well, it took all of five days from the day the names hit the media on Friday to yesterday for the police and the Home Ministry officials to express their befuddlement.
You may want to take your time to solve this mystery. – September 11, 2013.