The Dark Side - Indian Gangsters in Malaysia
Maybe this is what a to-do list of an Indian gangster looks like. Indian gangsters in Malaysia you ask? Yes.
It started off as a joke when me and my friends heard about Indian gangs and laughed it off. I mean we all hear of community stereotypes – all Nepalis are watchmen, all Bangladeshis are illegal immigrants and so on.
But majority of thefts and street fights started by Indians? I didn’t want to believe that. I sometimes even go to the extreme to find that one odd person who does not fit the stereotype.
Four Indian men wanted in a case of kidnapping a rival Indian gang leader – R. Ravi Shankar aka Bangsar Shan.
But this time the stereotype proved true, unfortunately and with a first-hand experience. Looks like the Indian men think that they own all the Indian girls by some default right. So when some Indian men saw me with a non-Indian, they tracked down our car and left a rude racist remark on a piece of paper! I was already seeing red and if they had disfigured the car I swear I would have had them behind bars.
This is when I started speaking to people around me and heard so much that my eyes grew wider and wider with shock. It was a revelation of an entire secret society.
Who would have guessed that Kuala Lumpur alone has around 38 Indian gangs with a membership of 1,500 involved in extortion, drug pushing and robbery. 316 Indian thugs had so far been banished to a Rehabiliation Centre a few years back under the Emergency Ordinance while the number of Chinese was 162 and Malays 60. (Source - Police Chief (Bukit Aman CID deputy director Senior Asst. Comm I) Datuk Ramli Yusof 10/09/00)
These gangs usually start off in school or in a local ground or ‘maidan’ as we know it. Most of the gangs are named after numbers: Gang 08, Gang 14, Gang 09, etc. If you are a member of Gang 14, then you need to pay up 14 Ringgit as the monthly membership fee. These gangs then choose their ‘area of operation’ and get into crimes like robbery, purse-snatching and even drug-dealing.
Gangs in school demand ‘protection money’ from their classmates and those who refuse are subject to physical & verbal abuse and ridicule. A gang called Gang 08 celebrated their 'founding day' and even bought a cake in the shape of the number 8, but the school authorities informed the police and the party got busted.
These school kids grow up and continue their crime, all the time feeling like heroes and bragging about their fights.
Signs used by the largest gang in the US – the ‘Crips’; Each gang has their own unique language and identity
A lot of people I spoke to had seen or experienced crime by Indians first-hand. These gangsters created this unfortunate stereotype that has been carried in the media and makes Malays and people from other races wary of Indians as a community.
Women always walk on the pedestrian side where they can see oncoming traffic (not where traffic is moving in the same direction as them) so that they can see people approaching and no one steals their bag from behind. These Indian gangsters’ modus operandi is to ride a bike with an accomplice, they even stop at public places like bus stops, find a helpless distracted victim and go for their purse. They even target single women driving cars and force them to stop by hitting their car or showing them a gun.
On a pedestrian walkway, women hold their bags in a way that it does not face the road
A friend of mine had her bag snatched in broad day-light in KL and yet another just narrowly escaped.
All this made me wonder why would my own country men do this? Some of these could be the reasons I think:
- No job, no money. The first Indians in Malaysia worked in rubber plantations as labourers. When many rubber plantations shut down due to commercial development on that land, the Indians lost their source of income and moved to the city. Children of these plantation workers faced poverty and turned to crime. Some of these gangsters are considered as modern day Robin Hoods – stealing from the rich and giving back to the poor!
An Indian man & woman tapping a rubber tree in Malaysia
- Politicians say Indians turn to crime because they feel marginalised from government development plans and lack equal education, business and job opportunities. A load of crap. A lot of Indians in Malaysia are doing well for themselves. It’s all about a person’s individual struggle and competition.
The one genuine problem they do face is that some of them have studied in a Tamil medium schools and their poor knowledge of English becomes a barrier in finding a white-collared job. A lot of Malaysian Indians have degenerated into becoming labourers, factory workers, waiters, office boys, security guards, toilet cleaners, road sweepers, beggars, squatters and yes – criminals and gangsters.
Many Indians themselves have spoken out and supported shutting down of Tamil medium schools. There are around 525 Tamil schools that still exist in Malaysia
- The Thrill. A lot of men and gangsters in general feel macho by showing their strength over helpless people and feel in power. Tamil movies don’t help either with the excess violence that endorse physical revenge in most movies.
Some of these Indian men could also be educated with full-time jobs, but one drunken fit of stupor and the gangster in him is out. He suddenly thinks he’s a ‘gang-star’. Some of these Indian men who don’t consider themselves as ‘gangsters’ but commit all crimes accept it themselves that they do it only for the kick.
Tamil movie fight scene
Malaysia has the second largest NRI population after the US and it’s unfortunate that these Indian gangsters are giving this large population of Indians a bad name. Indians make up only 8% of the Malaysian population but commit 80% of the crimes in the country.
While Indian gangsters are a reality, successful Indians in Malaysia also do exist. Ananda Krishnan an Indian is the second richest tycoon in Malaysia (according to the Forbes List). He owns many businesses and now also has 74% stake in India’s telecom provider – Aircel.
And how can we forget Malaysia’s Branson – Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia – a Malaysian of Indian descent who also owns the Lotus F1 Team. Tony is among the top 15 richest people in Malaysia. Let’s hope some common sense prevails and these Indians stop their gangster life.
The Good. The Bad. The Ugly.
P.S.: I cannot reveal any sources, I still want to be alive and be able to visit KL again. ;)