It was a shocking sight.
Two distraught, afraid-to-grieve relatives of the passengers in the disappeared Malaysian Airline flight MH370 escorted out of a room by police because they had dared speak to journalists.
I have held back from posting a second article in the series about Malaysian-Singaporean involvement in match-fixing as it seemed inappropriate with such a tragedy going on. However, after watching the news coverage of the disappearance of the Malaysian plane for two weeks, it is clear a couple of things are happening and, oddly, they link back to the match-fixing situation in this country:
1) The international media is doing their usual technological colonialism. It is the same thing that we have, sadly, seen from the fiasco of the Vietnam War, to the utterly failed ‘War on Drugs’, to the current drone attacks on innocent Pakistani civilians. Cannot win a war, because the people you are backing are a bunch of corrupt, dissolute thugs? Use expensive technology!
I see technological colonialism when I am invited to speak at international journalism conferences: a group of western media types descend to give the locals lessons in the latest high-tech gizmos (currently, it is something called ‘data journalism’). It seems to occur to few western journos to actually reverse the paradigm and try to learn from the people on the ground as to what may be occurring in their country and society.
In the story about the missing airplane, the international media analysis is all about technology: purported satellite tracking, GPS locators, flight simulators, blah, blah. We hear about this technology, than some highly-intelligent expert in a suit, sitting thousands-of-miles away from Malaysia explains what the technology does.
They are all missing the point. To understand what happened to the Malaysian airplane, we need to understand more about the culture of Malaysia.
2) It is clear that there are a number of agendas going on in Malaysia that are hindering the search. This is where international investigators should begin their trail. Not in what government officials claim happened in the sky, but when did local people know and when did they speak out about it.
I am not accusing the Malaysians of blowing up their own plane or deliberately hiding their knowledge of the plane’s whereabouts. However, I do think, that knowing Malaysian society, there are probably a number of powerful institutional agendas that are getting in the way of the search for the truth.
Jolly interesting: but what is the link with match-fixing in football?
Well, the same thing occurs in the ‘investigations’ against fixing in Malaysian (and the neighbouring, but culturally very different, Singapore).
Here is the important truth:
Singapore and Malaysian football is deeply corrupted. It is suffused with match-fixing. Not every game, nor every team, but fixing scandals occur so frequently that no one is surprised they occur.
Here is the second important truth:
Many of the people who fixed football matches Malaysia and Singapore have gone around the world and fixed games in dozens of different countries, leagues.
These facts beg the question: why have Malaysian and Singaporean officials been so slow to stop fixing and corruption in their sport?
It seems a pretty straight-forward thing to do.
After all, they have known for twenty years that fixers were preying on their sport.
The Singaporeans – as I have said repeatedly over the last couple of years – have had judicial evidence and international arrest warrants directly naming specific individuals as being involved in fixing.
A few months ago, the Singaporeans finally got around to arresting some of these fixers (Dan Tan, etc). They did not put them on trial, so they could publicly testify to the extent of their network or their accomplices. Rather they are holding them as ‘terrorists’ in indefinite detention.
Part of the reason is that it is very difficult to meet Malaysians or Singaporeans who believe that the match-fixing corruption in their football does not go very high in their societies.
They make this claim because, despite all the investigations and trials, not a single high-ranking official, politician or businessmen in those countries has ever been connected with match-fixing.
I am not accusing specific Malaysian or Singaporean officials of participating in this corruption, but I am saying that pretty much every Malaysian and Singaporean that I interviewed believed that some of their prominent people are involved. Here are a few - typical - quotes from the latest book - The Insider’s Guide to Match-Fixing:
Policeman: I do remember that one of the police officers: one of the lead guys in the [Malaysian match-fixing] investigation. We caught him meeting with one of the bookies that we were trying to investigate. We put a tail on him and we got a phone call from the people who were tailing him. He was meeting with the Chinese bookie.
Hill: Do you arrest him?
Policeman: No, it would have been too embarrassing
Malaysian police officer.
Our team was run by a group of top politicians and I am not saying they were fixing, but I am saying that there were very strong rumours and suspicions around themfor several years. I can't accuse him. You have to get proof. These guys are untouchable. You are talking about corruption at the highest level of society. If there is corruption going on at the level that there is no hope, the game has absolutely no hope.
Former Malaysian Player.
We lost nearly an entire generation of players, but if you are going to tell that there is no corruption now I wouldn't believe you…. We had circumstances where the entire team, including substitutes, were in on the fix.
Senior Malaysian Football Official.
[The Fixer told me] ‘Okay easy to talk. But I control your coach. I brought in your two foreigners. I paid the transfer fees for them, not the state FA.”
Transcript of a Royal Malaysian Police interview with one of the players arrested and exiled for fixing.
I make no accusations against specific individuals. What I do say, is that I heard dozens of rumours and stories from well-connected people about various triad groups, high-level businessmen, senior football officials, top-ranking players and various well-connected members of the aristocracy being involved in match-fixing. What I am also saying is that when most Malaysians and Singaporeans believe this is what is going on, it hinders proper investigations, whistle-blowing and reporting of corruption.
The link to the current investigation into the missing plane is that dollars to doughnuts – those same kinds of stories are currently making the rounds in Kuala Lumpur. There is a silent, war of hidden agendas that is hindering the investigation. What is needed to find the fate of Malaysian Airline Flight MH370 and to stop fixing from occurring around the world is for senior, external investigators from outside these agendas to step in and properly investigate.