Is gangsterism on the rise in Singapore?

Anti-crime operations over the years and efforts to educate the youth have kept the secret society situation in Singapore under control. But the recent spate of fights with weapons, some involving youth, have caused some to worry.

The recent spate of fights with weapons, some involving youth, have caused some to worry. ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Recent spate of fights with weapons raises worries about spectre of gangsterism in Singapore

Two men wielding weapons at the Boon Lay slashing on April 6, police officers at the Orchard Towers scene on July 2, 2019. PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM JAMES/ROADS.SG/FACEBOOK, ST FILE

Delivery rider Muhamad Marofkhan Mahmood froze in fear when he saw two armed men after a slashing incident in Boon Lay Drive last Wednesday afternoon (April 6).

The 52-year-old was too shocked to intervene. All he could do was call the police.

"They had long-bladed knives and I had nothing more than a helmet," Mr Marofkhan told The Straits Times in Malay.

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Show of bravado and fights were for nothing, says ex-gang member

Former gang member Bruce Stevens Mathieu said he joined a gang when he was 13 for a sense of belonging. ST PHOTO: ZAIHAN MOHAMED YUSOF

He was only 13 years old when he joined a gang, and within weeks was introduced to marijuana.

At 15, Mr Bruce Stevens Mathieu - whose father was French and mother Chinese - was kicked out of school after a fight. By then, he was a self-proclaimed full-time gangster.

He fought and did drugs because that was what gangsters did, he told The Sunday Times.

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Singapore was once known as 'Chicago of the East': Former cop

Former police officer Davy Chan said it was hard to avoid the gangs growing up, and there were often turf wars. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR

Secret societies now are largely made up of loosely organised street gangs and mainly comprise younger members who flit between different groups.

Law and Home Affairs Minister K. Shanmugam said this in a written parliamentary reply in February last year.

But the triads and gangs in the past were different, and membership often involved rituals, said former police officer Davy Chan, 75.

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Gang members involved in one of the worst attacks on cops

Following a spate of brazen attacks in 2020, the police launched an operation between December 2020 and January last year. ST PHOTO: KUA CHEE SIONG

In one of the worst attacks on police officers, a pair of twins assaulted two cops, leaving one with a traumatic head injury and the other with a fractured nose.

Muhammad Farhan Jaffri and Muhammad Fiqkri Jaffri, both 28, admitted to a number of offences, including being a member of a secret society.

Last Thursday (April 7), the court heard that Fiqkri had taunted one female officer, telling her he was a secret society member.

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