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The price of human rights and fundamental liberties

Posted: 09 Aug 2013 08:03 PM PDT

Isn't that an irony? Citizens are now safe from high-handed police action (unlike in the past). But then we end up not safe from criminals because the police have to be gentle in dealing with them as well since thugs too are 'citizens'.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Former EO detainees back to reclaim old neighbourhoods, say police sources

(The Star) - Is there a ferocious gang war going on? The spate of recent shootings in the country are mostly linked to revenge and turf wars by gangs to control drugs and illegal activities, according to police sources.

They believe that a gangland war has spilled out into the open and their leaders have become bolder in fighting for territories, now that many former Emergency Ordinance detainees are back in action.

According to the sources, the ex-detainees want to reclaim their old neighbourhoods and eliminate those who had taken over their activities, especially the highly lucrative distribution of drugs.

Describing several of the shootings as "drug fire", the sources said that the shootings were becoming more rampant as the gangs continued to reclaim turfs that they once controlled.

Asked whether the waves of recent shootings reflected the eruption of an all out gang war, criminologist Assoc Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy said he believed it could be the case.

He said although police had yet to determine the link, he noted that the shootings were consistent with cases in other countries like Mexico and Colombia, which faced drug-gang related violence.

"I have never seen as many shootings since the communist insurgency 40 years ago. Although the perpetrators then were a terrorist group compared to criminals now, it is still a major concern," Dr Sundramoorthy told The Star.

He said illicit firearms had been present in Malaysia for years, but had only now been used to kill people with such frequency.

In general, Dr Sundramoorthy said gang leaders had become bolder with the absence of preventive laws.

"It has become very complex to investigate and prosecute," he said.

On talk that the attempted assassination of anti-crime NGO MyWatch chairman R. Sri Sanjeevan last month could be linked to some of the later shootings, its advisor S. Gopi Krishnan said he did not think that the shootings were related to drug-related turf wars.

Prior to the shooting in Bahau, Sanjeevan had threatened to expose a list of drug dealers linked to the police.

Malaysians Against Rape, Assault & Snatch theft founder (Marah) Dave Avran said in a statement that the shootings since January could be related to rivalry between major gangs.

"We do not think that it is only limited to drug gangs. There are also online gambling, prostitution, alcohol and cigarette smuggling syndicates which run very lucrative million-ringgit operations," he said.

The gangland wars appear to have spread over to Sabah and Sarawak, with the shooting of businessman Tiong Choon Kwong at Beverly Hills in Donggongon, Sabah.

The word on the street is that the 44-year-old businessman was killed on orders from underworld kingpins from Sarawak.

According to locals, gangs are involved in gambling, illegal money lending, vice, smuggling and drugs.


Umno Blogger and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad loyalist Syed Akbar Ali reported in his Blog today that there are 77 gangs in Malaysia (I think he meant triads) and that they have been around since the 1970s. He also said that the most feared gang is the Gang 36 and that it is dominated by the Indians. (It seems Syed was quoting The Star).

Actually, these triads (not gangs) have been around since the time of Merdeka and were very active in the 1950s and 1960s. Then, soon after 13th May 1969, due to a police operation, many of its leaders and members were rounded up and exiled on Pulau Jerejak. Many also just 'disappeared' at the bottom of mining pools in Cheras, Jinjang, Sungai Way, etc.

In those days the police were tough towards these triad members. It was shoot first and talk later. Many of my friends were victims of this 'shoot to kill and no need to talk' policy.

I remember once when the Gang 108 (Pat Long Fu), that was operating in Kampong Atap (where the Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall is located), was attacked by the Gang 36 from Scott Road in Brickfields. That was in 1965.

In 1970, the Gang 08 from The Pines/Peking Hotel area attacked the Gang 36 and shot dead one of its leaders who was a close friend of mine. He took about ten bullets as he charged his assailants with just a knife.

In those days it was no big deal. People get shot and we would just attend their funeral and after that retaliate in kind. Actually, at the age of 16, it was quite exciting although we always knew we would need eyes at the back of our head or else end up dead.

How many friends did I lose? I really don't know. I lost count when it came to 20. And if you escaped death and ended up in hospital with bullet holes in your chest or 'cuts' all over your body you moved up the ranks. You wore your war wounds as a badge of honour and no one messed with you.

I don't think the underworld now is any worse than 40 or 50 years ago. In fact, it was worse then because Malays could not go to Ampang, Jinjang, Kepong, Cheras, Pudu, Bukit Bintang, etc., and Chinese could not go to Kampong Baru, Kampong Datuk Keramat, Kampong Pandan, Puchong, and so on. And Indians would not go to upper Bangsar near the TNB office while Malays would avoid lower Bangsar near where Malaysiakini now has its office.

You did so at your own peril and most likely you would never come out unharmed.

These gangs have always been very racial and they played an 'important' role in the May 13 race riots. Pat Long Fu in Brickfields was Indian while in Jalan Ipoh it was Chinese. Jalan Ipoh, Jalan Kelang, Ampang, Jinjang, Kepong, Bukit Bintang, Pudu and Cheras were Chinese while Kampong Datuk Keramat, Kampong Baru, Kampong Pandan, Puchong, Kawasan Melayu (PJ) were Malay. Brickfields, lower Bangsar, Sentul, and Kampong Atap were Indian. And so on.

The same thing was repeated in Perak, Penang, Johor, Pahang, Melaka, Negeri Sembilan, etc. Hence the triads took sides during May 13 and were the 'soldiers' who did the killing. Some of them acted as bodyguards and were supplied with weapons, guns included. So they became very 'useful' during May 13 and were no longer regarded as thugs but heroes by people of their own community.

But that was in the 1950s and 1960s. Today, because of the power of the media, in particular the social media, triads can no longer be king of the streets. The police, too, can no longer shoot to kill or shoot first and talk later. If they do then the opposition will protest like mad and scream like hell. Hence these street thugs have to now be offered justice and human rights.

And because of that the police have to handle them with gloves. Hell, even headmasters can no longer slap or cane students like in the 1950s and 1960s. Hence kids start at a very early age knowing that they are safe from punishment.

I suppose Malaysians will need to choose. Even in the UK we have serious problems with crime and thugs. When you get sent to jail if you attack a robber who enters your house you can expect crime to become a problem. The thugs are protected because of human rights and so on.

Of course, the world is moving towards more human rights and fundamental liberties. But you cannot have it both ways. Criminals too have human rights and fundamental liberties. Hence you cannot shoot to kill or shoot first and talk later even when dealing with thugs.

Isn't that an irony? Citizens are now safe from high-handed police action (unlike in the past). But then we end up not safe from criminals because the police have to be gentle in dealing with them as well since thugs too are 'citizens'.



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