KOTA KINABALU: The town of Donggongon in Penampang has often been dubbed the “illicit” gaming capital of Sabah.
Located about 10km from Kota Kinabalu, it is a busy commercial hub with shopping complexes and supermarkets.
It is also just a few kilometres away from Beverly Hills where 44-year-old Sarawakian businessman Tiong Choon Kwong was gunned down in a drive-by shooting last week.
Word on the street is that the order to kill Tiong came from underworld kingpins in Sarawak.
His death came amid a wave of shootings and killings of suspected underworld figures in peninsular Malaysia.
Described as a resort developer by police, Tiong’s past as a former Restricted Residence detainee led some people familiar with underworld activities to suspect that rivalry for control of the lucrative cyber gambling and illegal four-digit activities in Sabah has erupted.
Police, however, have yet to establish if such business rivalry could be the motive behind the shooting of Tiong, who was originally from Sibu, Sarawak and was placed on restricted residence in Kudat in the north of Sabah.
Those familiar with the cyber gaming business say that operations are done by gangs linked to two main groups – Red Door and Blue Door – who are the big players.
Smaller illicit operations are usually controlled by the Black Door and Yellow Door groups.
According to people familiar with Sabah’s underworld operations, the Red Door group are made up of international operators with locals and West Malaysians linked to figures from Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The Blue Door consists mainly of locals and West Malaysians.
Over the years, Sarawak triads have moved to Sabah and taken control of a good portion of the illicit activities.
The Sarawakian groups gained a foothold after the police crackdown on illicit money lenders and gambling syndicates in Sarawak between 2005 and 2006.
More than a dozen suspected gang leaders are believed to have been sent to Sabah under the Restricted Residence Ordinance after the crackdown.
Many are believed to have started gaming operations in towns where they were sent to, like Sandakan, Tawau, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Kunak.
Many believe the Sarawakian operators in the state are linked to their respective taiko (leader) in Sarawak and Tiong’s shooting might be totally a Sarawak affair.
Penampang MP Darell Leiking said Tiong’s death should be an eye opener for everyone.
“The serious problem is the illegal cyber gaming outlets operating all over Penampang especially with many of them operating right under the nose of the local authorities and police,” he said in a statement.
“They are causing Penampang to be a district of crime,” he added.