Runner, terror, fugitive, rat

Runner, terror, fugitive, rat

You can almost sense the vulnerability in their voices.

The once cocky banter of two men claiming to know so much about the dark world of football match fixing world is gone. In its place, uncertainty. On their minds, fear.

"Was my name revealed in the book?" one of them asked me yesterday.

The other man, whom I had met two weeks ago, tried to reassure himself: "Surely he wouldn't dare talk about such secrets. Would he?"

Their nightmares have now come true.

In a tell-all book launched by his co-authors online yesterday, convicted match fixer Wilson Raj Perumal, 48, stripped away whatever was left of a code of silence upheld by those in the kelong industry.

His book, Kelong Kings, exposes the misdeeds of corrupt footballers, bookies and fellow match fixers.

New names have emerged and new allegations have been made in the book, co-written by Italian journalists Alessandro Righi and Emanuele Piano.

A Singaporean man, who had previously worked with Wilson Raj, said yesterday: "He (Wilson Raj) is now a loose cannon that can explode in our faces."

And explode it has. His book even goes so far as to incriminate himself.

RAJ THE RUNNER

In 1995, Malaysia Cup Kelong King Rajendran "Pal" Kurusamy had allegedly sent his brother-in-law and Wilson Raj on a mission to fix English Premier League matches.

Wilson Raj had flown to the UK using his friend's passport because his own was impounded by the Singapore authorities over a match fixing investigation.

In Birmingham, the duo took a cab to the club's training grounds and posed as journalists from Singapore.

"If you are interested," Wilson's associate allegedly told Birmingham's then goalkeeper Ian Bennet, "I will give you £20,000 to lose the match against Liverpool. You're going to lose to them anyways."

The goalkeeper declined. An approach to another team player also failed.

Wilson Raj also implicated - and named - a former Singapore national player and a Croatian, saying that they were both members of Pal's syndicate.

RAJ THE VICTIM

Wilson Raj claimed that he had also been a victim.

He names a man, RP, who was an intermediary for a friendly between Malaysia and Lesotho in 2009. The game had supposedly been fixed by Wilson Raj's syndicate.

RP had gone to a shop in the People's Park Complex carrying $400,000 of Wilson Raj's cash as a deposit for a bet with a local bookie.

The final result of 5-0 in Malaysia's favour meant that Wilson Raj had won big.

But he could not collect.

RP called Wilson Raj on his mobile phone and said: "The guy took off with the deposit. He's gone... I went back to the shop and they told me that he is not there anymore."

Other instances of how people had worked under Wilson Raj were recounted in the book.

RAJ THE SOFTIE

There was a hint of sympathy in the book when he related an incident involving former national team coach P. N. Sivaji, 62.

In December 1993, Pal had "paid the Kedah team handsomely to fight tooth-and-nail for him and made sure no one else influenced his players".

Wilson Raj said: "The Singapore Lions' coach Sivaji was a soft-spoken man who was harshly criticised for not bringing the trophy home.

"Little did he know that someone else had already decided where the Cup was going."

RAJ THE UNTOUCHABLE?

Wilson Raj has named names and made several allegations against cheats, both in Singapore and overseas. Many are clearly defamatory, said lawyers The New Paper spoke to.

Lawyer N Kanagavijayan said: "There is recourse for defamation if the people mentioned in the book are easily identified. Wilson Raj needs to prove that what he said was the truth."

But to indict Wilson Raj may not be easy even though he is now in custody in Finland following his arrest in April 16.

Also, pursuing legal action might not be in the interest of some of those named in the book.

Said lawyer Satwant Singh: "Why would anybody mentioned in Wilson Raj's book want to go public with a lawsuit? It will only put them in the spotlight.

"In any criminal matter, there is no time frame. The authorities can still investigate if a crime was committed in the past."

Perhaps that's how former Lions' coach Sivaji would want it. When told of Wilson Raj's book and what he wrote, he said: "To me, that period was like a bad dream.

"I have forgotten it. It's gone."

This article was published on April 29 in The New Paper.

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