GEORGE TOWN - A criminologist believes the 49 illegal organisations listed by the Home Ministry have more than 40,313 members.
University Sains Malaysia criminologist Prof Dr P. Sundramoorthy said he was certain the figure was higher if inactive gang members, financial backers and those who rely on gangs for a false sense of confidence were included.
"Some of those who finance gangs are respectable people in society. Investments in underworld businesses such as the drug trade, betting rings and prostitution reap higher profits faster compared to legal investments," he said.
Dr Sundramoorthy reiterated that preventive laws should be reintroduced to allow the detention of active gangsters since there were so many of them.
He was commenting on a statement by Home Ministry secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Radzi that 40,313 people have been identified as members of 49 organisations, mostly gangs, that have been declared illegal.
In addition to reintroducing preventive laws, Dr Sundramoorthy said the authorities should use the Anti-Money Laundering Act to seize assets belonging to organisations which were obtained through illegal means.
He also said the Government should consider wiretapping to obtain evidence against the gangsters by monitoring their phone conversations, text messages, e-mails and any other form of communication.
"The recently implemented Ops Cantas Khas to go after wanted criminals is a good move but it is only a temporary measure," added Dr Sundramoorthy.