Grenades in Bukit Bintang blast aimed at gangster in gambling turf war: Reports

The grenade blasts in Malaysia's Bukit Bintang that killed one person and injured many were reportedly targeted at a top gangster involved in a boiling war on online gambling. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
The grenade blasts in Malaysia's Bukit Bintang that killed one person and injured many were reportedly targeted at a top gangster involved in a boiling war on online gambling. -- PHOTO: REUTERS 
The grenade blasts in Malaysia's Bukit Bintang that killed one person and injured many were reportedly targeted at a top gangster involved in a boiling war on online gambling. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
The grenade blasts in Malaysia's Bukit Bintang that killed one person and injured many were reportedly targeted at a top gangster involved in a boiling war on online gambling. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUALA LUMPUR - The grenade blasts in Malaysia's Bukit Bintang that killed one person and injured 13 were reportedly targeted at a top gangster involved in a boiling war on online gambling.

The Malay Mail on Friday revealed the gangster as a 53-year-old man known as "Ah Hai" from Imbi, who was seeking to expand his gambling empire by recruiting bookies from other syndicates with promises of higher profits.

Angered rival gambling syndicates reportedly put a hit on him and hurled the two grenades while Ah Hai was leaving the Cherry Blossom club at the basement of the Sun Plaza building with his entourage.

Malay Mail said rivals had information that Ah Hai was at the club to negotiate with a bookie as part of his recruitment drive. Two hitmen were despatched who then hurled the grenades from the second floor parking lot of the Plaza at 4 am early Thursday morning. 

The grenades themselves were nearly 30 years old. 

"Ah Hai was meant to be killed instantly as he was 'pinching' almost everyone who were working for the top bookies," the Mail quoted a source as saying.

"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 in the blast that injured 13 others including his driver and personal bodyguard.

Ah Hai is a gambling kingpin with several businesses around Bukit Bintang, which are now under scrutiny. He has been arrested under the Dangerous Drugs (Special Preventive Measures) Act 1985 for drug trafficking and possession.

In 2006, he was high on the wanted list for his suspected involvement in one of the biggest illegal bookmaking rackets in the country, but it is unclear if he was caught at the time.

Ah Hai is also known to lead a lavish life.

Malay Mail reported he splurges at least RM20,000 (S$8,000) to RM30,000 each time he goes to his favourite haunt, Cherry Blossom, whether to carry out business negotiations or 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.