KUALA LUMPUR: Gang 36 was originally made up of Chinese members before it was taken over by Indians to become one of the most feared secret societies in the country.
The gang’s evolution has been attributed to the growing reluctance of its Chinese founding members to get involved in the “nitty-gritty” of organised crime.
“Tired of getting their hands dirty, they recruited Indians to do it,” said a crime expert who declined to be named.
“After some time, the Chinese gangsters were outnumbered by the Indians and before long, it was being seen as an Indian gang. But that is not completely true as most gangs in Malaysia have a racially diverse membership,” he said.
The expert said there were still Chinese members in Gang 36, but they played a more passive role as “investors”. They pour money into the gang to fund its activities which allow them to double their money.
“Most of the time they would have legitimate jobs like in real estate.”
The expert said the pattern of evolution was commonly seen in many other gangs in the country.
“In the beginning, there were only Chinese gangs, which was a spillover from the triads from China,” he said.
He said the fear surrounding Gang 36 had led to many thugs just using its name to set up their own units, adding that membership was hard to verify with it being such a loose organisation.
The influx of Indians into gangs was also due to the country’s current socioeconomic climate and the unstructured nature of the criminal underworld itself, said MIC Youth chief T. Mohan.
“Poverty plays a huge role. More and more Indian youths are driven to join gangs because they feel they have no other way to make a living,” he said.
He said new gangsters claimed they belonged to a certain gang for the sake of being associated. He disagreed with talk that the current spate of shootings were coordinated assassinations in a turf war.
“The gangs are not that organised. These shootings are unrelated disputes between small groups which have a newfound freedom to use firearms,” he said.