Authorities to go after gang assets

PUTRAJAYA - The authorities are not just going after 49 organisations that the Home Ministry identified as secret societies. They will hit them where it hurts - by freezing and even seizing their assets.

The 49 groups have been gazetted as unlawful to enable the Insolvency Department to "wound up all their assets and properties and block all forms of transactions", according to the Home Ministry.

Its secretary-general Datuk Abdul Rahim Mohd Radzi said the triad groups had 40,313 members nationwide and their activities range from drug trafficking to murder, extortion, vehicle repossession and gang warfare.

He told a press conference here yesterday that the majority of members were Indians (28,926) followed by Chinese (8,214), Malays (1,923), Sarawakians (921) and Sabahans (329).

The gazette which took effect on Wednesday was made under a provision of Section 5 of the Societies Act 1966 (Act 335) which gives the Home Minister the authority to declare a society unlawful.

"It provides for the arrest and prosecution of people who use the names, symbols and premises of the gangs or identify themselves as members," said Abdul Rahim.

Among the most active triad societies named is Gang 04, an Indian-majority group whose 5,440 members in Kedah, Penang, Johor and Kuala Lumpur are known to be involved in drug pushing, extortion, car repossession and crimes involving firearms or dangerous objects.

Abdul Rahim said the others included Gang 08, believed to be formed in the 1970s in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor, and Double 7, set up in November 2005, which now has 1,053 members in 28 locations throughout the peninsula.

Abdul Rahim said that some of the recent shootings could be related to the gangs.

He said the police would investigate if there were foreigners, students or politicians supporting triad activity.

He said that some of the gangs used legitimate businesses to make and launder money.

"Double 7, for example, ran food premises and entertainment outlets and sold merchandise bearing their triad symbol ... they all want to make quick money," added Abdul Rahim.

Bukit Aman gambling, vice and secret societies division chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Jalil Hassan spoke on the hold that secret societies had on some people.

"A long time ago in Sarawak, they (triads) even controlled the prices of eggs and sugar in Miri and Sibu and caused a disturbance to public order there," he told reporters.

He also said the symbols of the 49 triad organisations would be unveiled by the Inspector-General of Police later.