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Monday, June 25, 2007

GANGSTERISM IN SARAWAK: DEPUTY MINISTER, TYCOON UNDER PROBE

Gangsterism in Sarawak: Deputy Minister, Tycoon under Probe

KUALA LUMPUR: A deputy minister and a tycoon, who is also a senior politician in Sarawak, are under police probe for alleged involvement in gangsterism, illegal logging and attempted bribery of senior police officers.

The deputy minister, who is in his late 50s and and the politician in his late 60s, hold the "datuk" title.It is learnt that a team from the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman had been tasked with the investigation.

The tycoon, who is a branch leader of a state Barisan Nasional component party, is suspected of having attempted to bribe policemen to secure the release of an underworld "don" who is in police custody in Sarawak.

The "don", known in the underworld as Le Long, is allegedly linked to the kidnap of a business rival. The 43-year-old man was detained when the police stormed his house at Oya Road in Sibu about 3am on Feb 27.

His arrest was the result of investigations into the kidnapping, over which six of his henchmen were nabbed three days earlier.

Initial investigations revealed that the six were linked to the kidnap of Kueh Chion Huat, who was confined in a house between Feb 6 and 23.

The victim, who was tortured during his captivity, was released when his father reportedly paid a ransom of RM100,000, about RM20,000 less than what was demanded by the kidnappers.

The "don", described by the Sarawak police as having links with the Peninsular Malaysia-based "Wah Kee" secret society, is being held in the Sibu prison, awaiting the kidnap case to be heard in the High Court.

Federal CID director Datuk Christopher Wan Soo Kee, when asked to comment on the alleged involvement of Sarawak politicians in secret societies, said: "Our special team is looking into the matter and is conducting thorough investigations.

"This is a complicated matter, so we can’t reveal much. We have our own strategies and networks to handle the matter." Wan also said that "Ops Cantas Kenyalang", a special operation to eradicate gangsterism in Sarawak, was ongoing.

"We want to ensure that Sarawak is free of gangsterism and are confident that this operation would be a success.

"Police have busted 17 secret societies active in Sarawak, with the arrest of 84 gang leaders and members, since "Ops Cantas Kenyalang" was launched in April. — Bernama

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