Song Boon Mun
KUALA LUMPUR: A large number of Myanmar refugees at the Selayang market here are forming gangs and turning to criminal activities.
Targeting only their fellow countrymen, the Myanmar thugs mainly extort "protection money" but are also behind kidnappings and murder cases.
Sentul police chief ACP R. Munusamy said the gangs leaders, in their 20's to 30's and have picked up Bahasa Malaysia, prey on their own community and extort money claiming they will act as "intermediaries" for their fellow countrymen when they land themselves in trouble with the police.
He said all the refugees are UNHCR (United Nations High Commission for Refugees) cardholders and are employed at the market.
"After paying the fees, the gang leaders will 'protect' them and also settle issues with the police as some of them cannot converse in Bahasa Malaysia. The leaders will then say they are legal cardholders in the country," he added.
"In other situations, if the victims have welfare issues such as their health, the leaders will also assist them. This is how they get their people to pay for protection money." Munusamy toldtheSun.
Munusamy said new faces spotted by gang leaders in their turf are often confronted and extorted.
"Each of the refugees pay about RM100 each month. It is a way for the foreign thugs to earn a side income," he said, adding that police uncovered such occurrence since January this year.
He said police have recently conducted surveillance in the area and managed to identify a few of the gang members.
Munusamy said 30 refugees were arrested in connection with the extortion.
"We charged 15 of them for extortion and they have been imprisoned while the rest who were members of the gang but escaped court action due to lack of evidence were placed in detention under preventive laws of the Prevention of Crime Act (Poca)." he said.
In January this year, a clash between a group of local gangsters and Myanmar nationals believed to be over drug-pushing and "protection money" occured at the Selayang market.
A 34-year-old man and a two-year-old child, both Myanmars were wounded when several men armed with pistols opened gunfire randomly at a crowd of foreigners.
Police launched a massive operation in the area in search of those involved in the incident soon after and police personnel are on guard in the area till this day to ensure no further clashes occur.
Munusamy said the case was settled but police are taking precautionary measures by keeping a close watch on the area.
Malaysia has a culture of gangs stars ruling the local markets and housing as well. Local polices pay more respect to the gangs that I have personally experienced so many times. The gangs are usually governed by local Malaysians OR Indians. Malaysia and Burmese Military rulers are traditionally the same like polices, you can buy the authority from them when you have to deal something with them. Pay money for what you want, money is the real second God in Burma and Malaysia. Gangs always involve with rape, robbery and drug.