Mahathir has raised a valid question  whether the Malay Mail front-page picture of Ka Ting and Ong King Ee aka  “Jackie Chan” with the banner headline “WANTED: TRIAD BOSS”  is fair and ethical  but he should also put all the swirling questions about triad infiltration and influence of the MCA and indirectly the government to rest by commissioning a full public inquiry

Media Statement
y Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling JayaFriday): The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad has raised a valid question whether the Malay Mail front-page picture on Friday, July 18, 2003  of the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting and Ong King Ee aka  “Jackie Chan”,  triad kingpin of the notorious Sio Sam Ong (Three Little Emperors) secret society which is linked to murder, dadah trafficking, kidnapping and robbery, with the banner headline “WANTED: TRIAD BOSS” is fair and ethical. 

Criticising the use of old pictures of Ka Ting together with “Jackie Chan”, who is the subject of a police nation-wide and Interpol alert and manhunt ten days ago on July 16, and who is also Gurney Drive MCA Branch chairman in Penang, Mahathir said:

“This is not fair. You take a picture that was an old picture and then you say 'wanted,' – put the picture showing him together with the MCA president. Is that fair?   It’s not possible that the MCA president is 'wanted.' Journalists must have ethics too.”

Mahathir said he did not understand why newspapers should mislead readers by using an old picture to prove as if the MCA president and the wanted man had just met. 

“Then you ask him if he knows the man. Of course, he now knows the man, but as to whether he knows that the man is a criminal or otherwise, is a different question altogether. 

“Say if I know someone, then 10 years later, we know that he is a criminal. You take our picture, then show it as if we are friends, that is not acceptable. 

“I have also been in pictures with people who I did not know, they sat beside me, maybe they are Umno members but if they are criminals, only now I would know.” (The Star 25.7.03)

I fully agree with Mahathir that it would be the height of unfairness to use an old picture of two persons at a public function to show that they were buddies when one of them is found to be a criminal ten years later and I would myself take up the cudgel to defend Ka Ting against such unfairness and unethical conduct although our political parties are at loggerheads in the political arena.

However, Mahathir’s hypothetical scenario does not fit the  Ka Ting-Jackie Chan case, for the following reasons:

  • Firstly, the picture of Ka Ting and King Ee was not what the MCA President had earlier tried to explain away as “You attend functions everywhere with thousands of people..anyone can be in the picture” but an official function for Ka Ting to launch the Wan Thor Boey Branch/MCA Gurney Drive in Penang in February 2001 where he  was presented with a souvenir from “Jackie Chan”  as the host  chairman of the new MCA branch.
  • Secondly, this is not a case of being photographed with someone who is known to be a criminal 10 years later as described by Mahathir. Ka Ting has admitted to Malay Mail (19.7.03) that he knew about Jackie Chan’s past with the notorious Sio Sam Ong triad and that he was aware of Jackie Chan’s  record of having been held in detention under the Emergency Ordinance when he joined the MCA in 2000.
  • Thirdly, the statement by  MCA public services and complaints department director Michael Chong on Sunday demanding “Be Fair to Ka Ting” seemed to be an admission that Ka Ting had dealings with Jackie Chan when he was Deputy Home Minister from 1995  and the triad kingpin was detained in Simpang Rengam for two years from 1996.  This could be the only implication of Chong’s explanation  when he said that in the past many wives and children of those detained under the Emergency Ordinance had approached him for help so that their husbands’ or fathers’ sentences were not extended, together with his statement: “At that time, Datuk Seri (Ong) was Deputy Home Minister. I appealed through his Ministry on humanitarian grounds to help these detainees as many of them had already served their sentences.” (Sunday Mail 20.7.03)

Although I said that Mahathir had raised a valid question whether the Malay Mail front-page picture of Ka Ting and “Jackie Chan” with the banner headline “WANTED: TRIAD BOSS” was fair and ethical, I do not agree that readers will get the impression that the MCA President was “WANTED” by the police – but undoubtedly,  the reputation and integrity of the  MCA President would have  been tainted or compromised by his association with the Sio Sam Ong  kingpin. (Penang State CID chief Senior Asst Comm (II) Abdul Rahim Jani described Sio Sam Ong as one of the “most active” secret societies in Penang today - “despite the small number of members which had been revived by its 37-year-old leader nicknamed Jacky Chan” and that it was  involved in international drug trafficking, kidnap and murder at its height.  (Star 18.7.2003)

This is why while raising the legitimate question of the fairness and ethics of the Malay Mail front-page picture of Ka Ting and “Jackie Chan”, Mahathir should also put all the swirling questions about triad infiltration and influence of the MCA and MCA President  and indirectly the government to rest by commissioning a full public inquiry into triad involvement, infiltration and influence in MCA and indirectly the government, in view of the fact that the MCA is the second largest component party in the Barisan Nasional coalition.

The public inquiry into triad involvement, infiltration and influence in MCA and government  should investigate the number and influence  of  triad kingpins and personalities in MCA, as there are serious allegations of more than one important triad kingpin or personality  in MCA, and give Ka Ting the opportunity to come clean to reveal his history of relations with Jackie Chan, from their first contact and meeting. 

The public inquiry should also probe  into the  extent of “black gold” politics in MCA especially as the MCA Youth leader and Deputy Minister for Youth and Sports, Datuk Ong Tee Keat demanded  in yesterday’s Berita Harian  that the MCA Presidential Council should revoke its stern disciplinary  warning to him as he felt fully vindicated for his public  allegations of “black gold” politics and triad infiltration and influence in MCA.

Tee Keat has upped the ante in today’s New Straits Times where he declared that  he left it to the people to judge if the MCA leadership should apologise to him considering that his earlier allegations that the MCA had been infiltrated by triads had been proven true by events.  I am prepared to be the first to declare that the MCA Presidential Council owes Tee Keat a full and unqualified apology and the duty  to revoke its improper and unfounded  “stern warning” administered to Tee Keat.

In the circumstances, the statement by the MCA central committee member and  Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Chor Chee Heung today that Jackie Chan, though  suspended, would be  fully reinstated as MCA member  “if the police investigations do not find anything against him” (New Straits Times)  must have come as a shock to Malaysians, raising questions about the MCA leadership’s commitment against triad politics and even  whether the MCA Ministers would lodge an official complaint in Cabinet against the police for launching a nation-wide and Interpol alert and manhunt against an innocent  MCA branch chairman for being kingpin of a triad linked to international dadah trafficking, kidnapping, murder and robbery without adequate evidence and basis?

In Monday’s New Straits Times, Chor had also come to the defence of the Deputy Home Minister, Datuk Zainal Abidin Zin who had committed a gross breach of parliamentary privilege when he gave a false and misleading answer in the Dewan Rakyat to DAP Secretary-General and MP for Kota Melaka, Kerk Kim Hock  during question time on June 16, 2003 that the police had found no evidence that any  MCA leader or member was involved in triad activities – which was  debunked by the nation-wide police and Interpol manhunt for Jackie Chan  a month later, with the police revealing that they had been on the look-out for the triad kingpin for several months  and Tee Keat’s vindicated  allegations of triad infiltration in MCA.

DAP National Vice Chairman and MP for Kepong, Dr. Tan Seng Giaw, will represent the DAP to refer Zainal Abidin to the Committee of Privileges, which should also summon Chor to ascertain whether he was responsible for Zainal Abidin’s misleading answer in Parliament  falsely claiming that the police were not aware of the involvement of  any MCA leader or member in triad activities, which would have  justified a parliamentary censure motion against the police for gross incompetence, lack of professionalism and negligence in upholding law and order the protect Malaysian citizens from crime.


* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman