Malaysia stands the risk of becoming like Chicago in the 1930s, where gang and mafia activities were rampant, if their activities are left unchecked, the police have warned.

In a recent interview with Malay daily Utusan Malaysia, Bukit Aman Criminal Investigation Department deputy director Dev Kumar said the country currently has 72 known and active gangs with over 9,000 members.

According to him, out of the 72 identified gangs, 49 were established in 2013, while 23 others were set up in 2015.

"It is feared that gangsterism will increase as violent gangs get involved in turf wars for control of an area to commit their crimes, such as drug pushing or gambling.

"These gangs are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their objectives," he warned, adding that if left unaddressed, the country stands the risk of becoming like "Chicago" in the 1930s, which was rampant with gang and mafia activities.

Dev Kumar noted that gangs still have control over their respective turfs despite the restrictions imposed under the Movement Control Order to contain the spread of COVID-19.

He warned that individuals who join criminal gangs or organisations can face action under Section 43 of the Societies Act 1966, while those who sport gang tattoos or logos on them can also also be prosecuted under Section 52(3) of the same act.

Last month, a gang clash between two groups armed with machetes in Taman Juara Jaya in Batu 9, Cheras went viral on social media. Police later revealed that the clash was a drug turf war.

A recent report by the Science and Wellness Organisation (SWO) said that 72 per cent of Malaysian gang members are Indians, and a total of 28,926 Indians have been identified as gang members.

Following the revelation, MIC vice-president C Sivarraajh has mooted four initiatives to arrest the problem, namely increasing the intake of Indian officers to the Royal Malaysian Police's (PDRM) special investigations department or D9, reviving three now-defunct elite police teams which dealt with gangsterism, organised crimes and drug-related crimes, identifying and investigating the "leakages" within the police, and early intervention by identifying and assisting students showing tendencies of being part of crime groups.

Police data in 2018 had also shown that Indians, who make up for only about two million of the country's population, have 18 gangs with over 260 branches, and the community accounts for almost a quarter of the country's cases of deaths in police custody.

Source: Utusan Malaysia,
Photo source: pexels