EXCLUSIVE Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has tough words for criminal gangs but the home minister appears to have a soft spot for the Tiga Line underworld group, calling them his friends and urging them to do what they needed to do.

zahid hamidi malacca melaka 061011Zahid made these remarks at an event in Malacca last Saturday and then threatened journalists present that he would close down their newspapers if they reported his statements.

However,Malaysiakini has obtained a 20-minute recording of the speech, in which Zahid claims to be speaking to Umno delegates in what appeared to be a government function.

The event at the Malacca International Trade Centre in Ayer Keroh began innocently enough, with the home minister declaring the police to be colour blind.
He pointed out that they had checked out 178,217 Malays, 77,104 Chinese, 73,505 Indians and 51,517 other races in a crackdown against the underworld.

Of this, 14,511 were found to be secret society members - 6,171 Malays, 1,701 Chinese, 3,685 Indians and 2,954 from the other races.

But from here on was a strange twist, with Zahid zooming in on Tiga Line and declaring that they really weren't thugs and were in fact some form of benevolent gangsters that only turned up at festivals.

'Tiga Line not thugs'

"The 6,171 Malays, they are not real thugs (samseng), they were Pekida members and were part of the Tiga Line group, Gang 30, Gang 7 - these are festivities (kenduri-kendara) gangsters...

"I tell our Tiga Line friends, do what should be done," he said to loud cheers from the room.

NONETiga Line is among a list of 49 secret societies released by the Home Ministry in August and declared unlawful.

Zahid then continued to refer to Tiga Line on a first person basis, stating: "We are not evil, I know, I have checked. We gather during festivals with our siblings, we gather when there are projects, never mind".

"I see here, the candidates here, all four of them are Tiga Line," he laughingly said.

Zahid had in his speech repeatedly referred to Umno supreme council candidate Shahidan Kassim, who was also present, as the "biggest Tiga Line gangster", in a joking manner.

'Malays the biggest victims'

After the apparent out-of-place moment for the home minister, he returned to his tough talk against criminals, saying that he had launched the crackdown against the underworld as he felt insulted by the daily street shootings.

The home minister also appeared to take a racial stance on crime, declaring that Malays were the usual victims.

NONE"The largest drug dealers are Chinese, the smaller ones are Indians and the users are Malays. 

"In Internet gambling, the bosses are Chinese, operators are Indians and patrons are Malays...

"Therefore the victims are Malays," Zahid said, adding that he is home minister due to Malay support that made him Umno vice-president.

The event where he spoke was titled 'Security briefing ceremony with community leaders' and the backdrop bore the federal and Malacca government emblems.

While Zahid appeared to be aware of journalists' presence at the event, telling them to omit some of his words midway through his speech, the home minister backtracked towards the end and declared the event a closed-door function.

Journalists there were unceremoniously told to leave as those in room shouted for them to get out. The organisers later reportedly told the journalists that the incident was a "misunderstanding".

Ayer Keroh state assemblyperson Khoo Poay Tiong, who furnishedMalaysiakini with a copy of the recording, rubbished the assertion that it was a closed-door event, claiming that media seating had been prepared.

~ Malaysiakini