MALACCA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - It's the sort of girl power that Malaysia can do without. There are 1,300 female triad leaders in the country, says a crime prevention body.
Apparently, these leaders are recruiting more schoolgirls to join their female gangs.
United Malaysia Crime Prevention Organisation (UMCPO), which works closely with the Home Ministry, revealed that at least 12 per cent of the current membership base of the notorious gangs were females.
UMCPO's national chairman Datuk A. Balakrishnan said gangs like 36, 21, 24, 555, 303, 04, 08 and Satu Hati all have female wings with their own set of leaders providing "protection" to schoolgirls who are forced to pay for that protection.
Acting Penang CID chief, Asst Comm P.R. Gunarajan, confirmed that female triad leaders were penetrating schools in the state to recruit members.
"They are part of the bigger gangs and act as wing leaders. They want to be recognised as "tai kah cheh and akka" (big sisters) and my men are monitoring their activities. Officers here have been in touch with schools to prevent the recruitment of female students into gangs," he said.
Balakrishnan said police had also informed them about the number of schoolgirls and women who were part of these gangs.
"These girls also engage in fights and intimidate others into paying gang fees," he said.
Balakrishan said that based on Bukit Aman's statistics, violent crimes involving girls and women have been rising. It comprised about 10 per cent of offences including assault, robbery and drug-related crimes committed last year.
Balakrishnan said the increase in reports of female bullying also suggested that females could be as violent as male gangsters. He said UMCPO's data showed there were about 1,300 active female gang leaders.
Malacca's Private Sector, Human Resource and NGOs Committee chairman Datuk M.S. Mahadevan said the state was seeking the help of women-based non-governmental organisations to address violence among schoolgirls.
He said gangs like 36, 04 and the new Johor Baru based Sorna Sisters gang were now recruiting members in the state.
Sorna Sisters is named after a violent female Tamil movie character.
Mahadevan said he had also seen videos of female gangs in action with some of the footage taken in Malacca.
Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation Vice-Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said he had warned of violent schoolgirls four years ago.
He said the recent incidents of bullying and violent behaviour involving students of both genders should be viewed very seriously.
"What is of utmost concern is that the violent culture appears to be gaining a foothold in our society and educational institutions," he said.
A Bukit Aman official agreed that there was an increase in the number of females involved in criminal activities, especially acting as accomplices in gang robberies.
However, he said more research was needed to determine the actual number of female gang leaders in the country.