SIBU: The state does not have 16 gangster groups despite being identified and listed so by Bukit Aman police, according to Sibu police chief ACP Shafie Ismail.
Rather, he said, some were actually disorganised groups.
“No, we do not have 16 gangster groups although Bukit Aman have identified them.
“If we had that number then it would be a headache to us. The matter has been relayed to Bukit Aman.
“But if you mean disorganised groups, then we have more than 16. In Sibu we have seven but they are not active. They are only involved in illegal activities to make themselves rich and not in serious crimes,” he said during the question-and-answer session of the half-day Media Dialogue here yesterday.
He listed these illegal activities as smuggling of goods, vehicle theft, cock fighting and gambling.
ACP Shafie said disorganised crime groups were almost everywhere in this division including in Bawang Assan, Sungai Merah, Paradom and Lanang.
He said many of the fights that happened in town occurred when people got themselves drunk in night clubs and pubs.
Overall, the town had no gangster group as compared to the time when he was posted here in 2007.
According to him, back then even molotov cocktails were thrown into the central police station.
“The last time when I said there was no gangster in Sibu, a politician hit back. He even wanted to report my statement to Parliament and Bukit Aman.
“We once had (gangsters) when Lee Lung tied up with a gangster group in Peninsular Malaysia. But not any more, as he is now involved in business,” he added.
According to ACP Shafie, only poorly-informed outsiders still think Sibu as a samseng (gangster) town.
He said between 2005 and 2006, there were 25 samseng heads in Sibu.
When he started work in 2007, 17 of them were caught by the police, four of whom were sent to the Simpang Renggam Rehabilitation Centre in Johor under the then Emergency Ordinance.
Up to now, only gang leader Lo Han remained elusive, he said, adding that in 2011, Lo Han had instructed the fatal shooting of a man outside a pub in Jalan Pahlawan.
He believed that the man was hiding somewhere in China now.
ACP Shafie said the crime situation was not as bad as what many perceived.
“On an average we have only four cases a day as compared to Johor, which once recorded 50 a day before they were later reduced to between 20 and 40 cases. If I am given a choice, I would like to retire in Sibu as the town is more peaceful than elsewhere,” he said.
On the latest crime situation here, he said the police were eyeing three housebreaking groups.
“Once we contain all three groups, we anticipate that crime cases would be further reduced. Every year we target to reduce the figure by 5%. This year, we hope we could achieve zero, or just a few cases.”