KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 10 — The grenade attack in Bukit Bintang that killed one man and wounded 13 others yesterday was targeted at a top Imbi gangster involved in a boiling online gambling war. A source close to the police investigations said the 53-year-old man known as “Ah Hai” was seeking to expand his gambling empire by recruiting bookies from other syndicates with the promise of higher profits. This angered rival gambling syndicates that are believed to have put up a hit on him. At 4am yesterday, two hitmen hurled two grenades from the second floor of the Sun Plaza parking just as Ah Hai was leaving the Cherry Blossom club at the basement of the building with his entourage.
The source said Ah Hai was at the club to negotiate a bookie recruitment drive and it is believed his rivals came to know about the meeting. “Ah Hai was meant to be killed instantly as he was ‘pinching’ almost everyone who were working for the top bookies,” he said. “CCTV footage at the parking lot shows two men hurling the grenades. They then immediately got into a car and fled. Police are still trying to establish the suspects’ identities as the recording was not clear.” Ah Hai escaped unscathed while car jockey Tiong Kwong Yie, 36, died after the grenade exploded and injured 13 others including his driver and personal bodyguard. In 2006, he was high on the wanted list for his suspected involvement in one of the biggest illegal bookmaking rackets in the country.
It is not known whether he was caught then. The source said the gambling kingpin was previously arrested under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 for drug trafficking and possession. The source said Ah Hai owned several businesses around Bukit Bintang and police were scrutinising the nature of his businesses with the registrar of societies. Ah Hai also led a lavish life. Discovered that he splurges at least RM20,000 to RM30,000 each time he goes to his favourite haunt, Cherry Blossom, whether to carry out business negotiations or simply to socialise. His reputation of giving generous huge tips also made him a favourite at the club. “Everyone, including the jockeys, took good care of him. They will escort him out and make sure he gets into his car safely when he leaves,” the source said. It is learnt police will be calling Ah Hai soon to interview him.