Malaysia fears return of the gangs, police redouble efforts

Police officers inspecting the scene of the shooting in Kajang. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK
Police officers inspecting the scene of the shooting in Kajang. -- PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Ten months after Malaysia police launched a blitz against violent criminals, nicknamed Operation Cantas Khas, gangland-style shootings and killings are re-emerging.

At least eight shootings occurred this year, the latest when wholesaler Abd Ghani Abdullah, 50, was shot at by a man on a motorcycle as he was walking from the car park to his meat stall at the Kajang Market on Monday. He survived the attack.

Mr Abd Ghani was critically wounded on his left shoulder and below his right ear after he was shot twice in the 6.30am incident.

Kajang police official Ab Rashid Ab Wahab said a passer-by who witnessed the incident contacted the police after the shooter sped off.

Some gangs, that fled Malaysia after the police operation was launched last year, are now trying to regroup.

One such group - Gang 36 - held clandestine gatherings in some parts of the country on June 3 to commemorate the forming of their gang, sources said. It is also learnt that some Gang 36 members who had gone hiding in neighbouring countries were back for the "reunion".

However, Malaysian police assured the public that all is still well.

"Only remnants of the gangs are trying to launch sneak attacks on rival gangs, nothing more," said Federal CID deputy director Deputy Comm Datuk Mazlan Mansor. "They are of the impression Ops Cantas Khas has been scaled down. Mark my words - the gangs cannot come back. Ops Cantas Khas is still on.

"Our men are working day and night to ensure gangs do not make a comeback," DCP Mazlan told The Star on Monday.

He said gangsters were extra cautious as the police now had the recourse to Prevention of Crime Act (PCA). "We cannot publicise it as much as we cannot share our tools of the trade. We will strike at any remnants of the gangs when they least expect it," he said.

Federal Secret Societies, Gambling and Vice Division principal assistant director Senior Asst Comm Roslee Chik said 134 people, mostly gang members, had been arrested under the amended PCA since April 2.

"Of the number, 38 people were issued with Restricted Residence orders by the Crime Prevention Board while 24 were in the process of being re-charged.

"The remaining suspects are still in detention," he said.

Mr Roslee said the PCA had come in handy in putting dangerous and violent criminals behind bars.

Ops Cantas Khas is seen as contributing to a decrease in gang activities. Murder was reduced from 504 cases to 433 cases, while armed robbery dropped from 83 to 54.

Gang robberies have also gone down from 13,533 cases to 12,048, with crimes involving firearms going down to 14 cases from 20.

A total of 9,659 types of firearms, explosive material, weapons and ammunition were seized throughout the special operation.