Monday, 14 July 2014

Indian Malaysian Gangsters - A Historical View

I usually don't talk about gangs in my blog or Facebook page. I see too many people talking about it but I guess one article with a different perspective will be needed.

Gangsterism is a menace in this country. There are gangsters from every race. But we will look into the involvement of Indian gangsters in the Peninsular. 

To understand how it started, we need to look at the history of the community.

When the Indians migrated from India to then Malaya, the triads of India moved in with them. Back then, Indians had their own triad network just like the Chinese. The underworld of the triads has been in existence for many centuries. It is not something which was created overnight.

It is also not something which was born out of poverty. It is all about power. The Indian triads are still around but they are very secretive.

Some of these Indian triads could be older than the Mafias of Sicily. Their main source of income comes from smuggling, contract killing, protection money. They also had access to guns. So it was not just parangs like what you see today.

Like sea piracy, it was once a way of life for some.

But these triad men, though they were criminals, were not causing much trouble to the ordinary people. They were a nuisance to the law enforcers and the business community but not the general public. 

Such Indian triads existed in Port Klang too. 

Indians were numerous in the Klang harbour area. Certain triad clans were controlling the trade over there. Smuggling is a lucrative business.

Areas such as Tengku Kelana was once full of Chinese shops until the Indians took over. The Chinese are still in control in certain areas of Klang but they did loose some territory to Indian triads. I have heard of stories of clashes between Indian triads and Chinese triads from my relatives. 

My father and grandfather used to tell me that the gangsters of their time do not recruit school boys. They also do not disturb the public during temple festivals unlike what you see during Thaipusam in KL. 

But things started to change in the 1970s......

Global demand for rubber dropped and Malaysia went through a period of "Estate Fragmentation".

You may ask what was there before the rubber estates. The area was of course a thick jungle. The British brought the Indian coolies and made them clear the jungle, plant rubber and work in the rubber estates for a few generation.

After the rubber estates were fragmented, former estate lands were privatized. New owners find it cheaper to hire foreigners to work than local Indians. The skill of the Indian rubber tapper was no longer needed.

Large percentage of the estate land was converted into housing areas, industrial areas, highways. 

The present administrative capital of Putrajaya was once known as Prang Besar Estate with many Indians. I have been to that estate before it turned into Putrajaya. It was a beautiful place. 

Today you see many Malays in Shah Alam, the capital of Selangor. They are the majority now.

But Shah Alam was also once a very large estate full of Indians. When the estates were taken over for new projects, Malays moved in not just from their neighboring kampungs but also from other states. Large number of Indonesians from Java moved in too.

The Indians of the former estates were then left in the dark after the fragmentation. They had no land, no experience living in cities, no skills and no education. 

When they moved in to live in the new township, things became very hard for them. They were so used to the estate life and a sudden change was just too hard to accept.

Since they were not educated, many did not see the importance of legal registration of marriage. Because of no marriage certificate, it becomes difficult to register the birth of their children. These children then grow up as adults with red MyKad. They become stateless.

The Indians with red MyKads are often discriminated when they walk into any government offices for help. They are not treated as Malaysians. 

Life becomes very tough for them. No legal documents to help, no proper education, broken family, no help from society, no strong kinship network.....

They become the social outcast of the city and turn into crime. These are the new breed of gangsters in the society.

Unlike the previous Indian triads, these underclass Indians were very desperate. They were not well established. The adults turn to alcoholic drinks such as samsu to forget about their misery. 

The school boys join gangs. They also turn to drugs becoming both users and pushers. It gave them money. They don't have to depend on their poor parents anymore. Furthermore, they have no communal pride to worry about.

These are the type of Indian gangsters who then become a nuisance during temple festivals ramming their motorbikes, whistling, blowing vuvuzelas, drinking and dancing. They seek the attention of the society in a very unpleasant way.

This is what happens when we forcefully move people out of their existing environment and place them at the bottom of the social hierarchy in a new environment.

The well established Indian triads and Chinese triads are no longer in the front line of their business. They outsource their work to these new Indian gangsters. The triads have morphed into "Corporate Gangsters". They only deal directly with people who have influence, money and power.

Our government is also at fault here. 

They should have provided the underclass Indians with necessary skills training before moving them out. This is so that they can survive in the city.

They could have at least come up with a scheme similar to FELDA. Many Malays today are enjoying the fruit of FELDA. 

If a similar scheme was offered to the underclass Indians of the estates back in the 1970s, their children would not be suffering from poverty today. 

They would have not turned to gangs to solve their problem. Indian gang menace could have been avoided or at least minimized.

Nobody wakes up in the morning and suddenly decide to become a gangster. There is a history behind everything. In the case of the Indian Malaysian gangsters, the real problem started in the 1970s.

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