Cowed gang members go into hiding

This picture taken in the early hours of August 21, 2013 shows Malaysian policemen guarding a roadblock during an operation called "Op Cantas Khas" in Kuala Lumpur.

PETALING JAYA - After a spate of high profile shootings and violent crimes, gang members appear to be lying low, cowed probably by the ongoing crackdown.

A former gang member and Emergency Ordinance (EO) detainee told The Star that the general feeling in the underworld was to "wait out until this blows over".

He said gangs, which mostly rely on lucrative returns from drugs distribution, had slowed down or halted operations in the Klang Valley after the launch of Ops Cantas Khas.

"I asked some of my friends who are still in the gangs to join me for a drink on Merdeka Day, but they said they had to remain hidden for a while," he said.

"They fear being stopped at roadblocks and getting locked up. They don't want to confront the police because they know they can't win."

The ex-gang member said it was about time the authorities took a stand against secret societies.

"They have been thriving under the noses of the inactive police force for nearly two decades," said the man, who was detained under the EO for six years.

He said the ongoing crackdown on gangs should not be a knee-jerk reaction.

"Long-term efforts are needed to eradicate gangsterism.

"Locking up more than 40,000 gang members is an unrealistic move." he said.

According to another source in Klang Valley, there is zero gang-related activities now.

"Everyone linked to gangs and triads seems to have disappeared," the source said.

He some gangs, which were in the protection racket, have also not been seen in the open.

"Normally gang members can be seen hanging out regularly in certain places, but they're all not there anymore," he said.

He said some had even resorted to moving out of their "bachelor pads" and moving in with their families.

He said most young gangsters were school dropouts from hardcore poor families or those who had older relatives who were gang members.

Bukit Aman's gambling, vice and secret societies division chief Senior Asst Comm Datuk Jalil Hassan said Ops Cantas Khas had been successful in "bringing the fight" to the gangs.

"The streets are safer compared to before the special operation was conducted.

"The gangs are lying low but we will not stop until we are satisfied that they have been dealt with," he said.