Referee who skipped bail in S'pore found in Kedah

SINGAPORE - For a wanted man, Shokri Nor lived an open life.

The former part-time referee and policeman fled Singapore around July 2012 - two months after being charged with corruption. He was accused of conspiring to fix the match between Singapore's LionsXII and Sarawak FA in the Malaysian Super League.

Now, almost a year later, The New Paper found Shokri living in a housing estate about 20 minutes outside Sungai Petani in Kedah, Malaysia.

For a man supposedly hiding from the law, Shokri was not cowering.

When TNP observed him for three days starting July 1, he went about his daily routine with nary a care for the law.

Shokri's routine started in the morning with him sweeping the floor of his semi-detached house and cleaning his black car.

He was polite, greeting neighbours while taking out the trash.

When TNP approached him on July 3, Shokri was unhappy with the intrusion.

For about 20 seconds, he stood silently staring at this reporter, surprised that he had been found. Frowning, he asked in Malay: "What's all this about?"

TNP peppered him with questions.

Why did he abscond? How did he manage to get out of Singapore in spite of his passport being impounded by the Singapore authorities? He scanned the estate as though waiting for more strangers to emerge from the shadows. Visibly upset, Shokri growled "what for" before he went back into his house and killed the lights.

Over the next 15 minutes, Shokri's worried-looking wife and teenage daughter spoke on his behalf.

Madam Ju said: "(You can't guarantee he will not be arrested), that's why we can't really talk to you.

"He is now stressed out. Super stressed, he has told me."

His teenage daughter, who declined to be named, said: "I don't want to be rude, but this isn't something we need right now. What if the authorities come and arrest my father?

"Why is Singapore so interested in knowing all about my father's situation?"

The teenager added she was surprised that it took a year to locate her father.

Shokri was initially rumoured to be in Penang and later, Kedah.

TNP understands he had moved out of his police quarters in Penang after the corruption saga. We wanted his side of the story.

Then a well-placed insider in Malaysia told TNP that Shokri was spotted in the Sungai Petani estate driving a Penang-registered Perodua Kenari.

The family went everywhere in the car. Each time the family headed into town or to the petrol station, Shokri was always the first out of the car.

He would walk ahead of his family.

Even when our Singapore-registered car had unknowingly moved slowly past his front gate, Shokri was not suspicious. He took a glance and continued with his housework.

It remained uncertain how long Shokri had been living there.

Unwilling to speak

None of the five immediate neighbours we approached was willing to speak about Shokri's family or when he had first returned from Singapore.

Only one neighbour offered that Shokri had "always been around at home".

Apparently, TNP was the first to visit the Shokri residence.

Madam Ju, who is believed to be Shokri's second wife, said: "No, there hasn't (been any visits by reporters).

"Once, the Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau called me. They wanted to get my statement. I said, 'please don't bother me'."

She had also declined an interview request by a Malaysian reporter who had approached her on the street.

Their daughter revealed that Shokri was "no longer involved in sports, the Football Association of Malaysia or the police force".

"I really want to protect my father. I know you came from far, but will your story be able to return my father's career or reputation?" Shokri now makes a living helping his wife in the bridal and wedding decoration business.

On July 2, he was seen at home, loading his car with wedding decorations.

He later stopped at Sungai Petani Plaza, where the family has a joint venture with Arinash Collection.

Why so slow?

Why is fugitive Shokri Nor still a free man?

Observers familiar with the kelong probe implicating former part-time referee and Penang-based full-time cop Shokri, who had gone absent without official leave, are baffled.

An ex-police detective with the Malaysian police force voiced his frustrations.

The detective, who agreed to speak on the condition of anonymity, said: "It's taking too long to arrest him (Shokri).

"If we can't even find and arrest a lowly lance-corporal, how do we expect to nab terrorists who are more sophisticated?

"Luckily, Shokri is not a person with (financial) means. He hasn't strayed far from home."

When two different countries or jurisdictions are involved, it is not as simple as "picking up" a fugitive via a phone call.

The Malaysian police, via Interpol, usually act on information from the Singapore police.

The most recent case being the arrest of Iskandar Rahmat in Johor Baru on July 12 in connection with the Kovan double murder. A New Straits Times report said the Singapore police requested that the Johor police place Iskandar on a "stop list".

Was a formal request made to the Malaysian police to arrest Shokri after he jumped bail?

Both Singapore and Malaysia authorities were unwilling to share intimate details of their investigations.

A Corrupt Practices Investigation Bureau (CPIB) spokesman told TNP: "The authorities are actively working on locating them (Malaysia's ex-national football player Thanasegar S. Sinnaiah and Shokri) and executing the warrants of arrest.

"It is not appropriate for us to comment further on the case as it is before the court."

The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission had not replied to our queries by press time.

Assisting M'sian police

The Football Association of Malaysia (FAM) revealed it was assisting the Royal Malaysian Police.

FAM's head of integrity, Mr Osman Abu Bakar, said: "Pending the outcome of his (Shokri's) case, his licence is suspended and (we) will bring this matter up with the integrity committee for revocation as he had gone against FAM integrity department's code of ethics."

Mr Osman hoped for a prompt conclusion and for the fugitives be taken back to Singapore to face the courts.

He said: "The underlying message - not only to football fans but also to those involved in the game - is that we do not condone match fixing and football corruption."

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